Friday, October 24, 2008

Scandinavia (Oct 16-20, 2008)

Paris -> København

Thursday, October 16th, 4:20am
Alarm. Alarm. Alarm. Oy vey. Breakfast, luggage in the dark, bus in the dark, plane, sunrise. Copenhagen International Airport, 9am.

I got my luggage into a locker, and strut out of the station with no map (1st mistake). I found the main street downtown, a pedestrian only street lined with stores and cafes. I found an AMAZING outdoor photography exhibit and took my sweet time admiring the portraits. Then, still enamored of my stroll through gorgeous architecture sans-smog, I found a round building with a line outside... curiosity got the best of me and I found a sign in English (HUZZAH!) informing me I was standing in front of the oldest observatory in Europe. So I joined the line. The tower offered beautiful views of the city below, the water, and Sweden, my destination that evening.

So after I walked down the tower, I found a friendly newsie and asked him how to get to the Little Mermaid statue. He showed me on a huge map in the square. I started the looong walk, a visual memory of the map was all I had, that and the luck that every Dane speaks incredible English. I passed through Nyhavn, the colorful harbour (1st image of this blog). There were lots of restaurants with outdoor heaters and blankets- perfect for eating outside in the cold. But I kept walking towards the Mermaid (2nd mistake!!). By the time I got to The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) I was so friggin hungry I was out of it. I took the obligatory photo, the necessary sit on a bench, and headed back to Nyhavn for a Smørrebrød, Open face sandwich. Yum. I got a chicken sandwich. I was so hungry at that point, the adventurous side of me which would have tried the eel or the herring was long gone.

København -> Helsingør -> Helsingborg, Skåne, Sverige

I arrived in Helsingborg (in the Scania provence) Sweden around 5ish and was greeted by the beautiful Jessica and her amazing 5-year-old son Tyler. (Backround... Jessica and I met in Gaeta, Italia in 2000ish. We lived 2 hours from eachother when I was in Rome but visited occasionally and became friends. Totally randomly, Jessica was an Au Pair in Great Falls, VA the same time that I moved back to Annandale to go to GMU. It was a happy surprise to us both!)

So, now, sitting at Jessica's kitchen table, while she made dinner and Tyler drew pictures, we realized we hadn't seen eachother in 5 or 6 years. I was exhausted, up since 4:20 and hauling my hungry ass all over Copenhagen, but I craved their company (and the smells from her stove).

Jessica went to work on Friday and I met her there, at the Dunkers Kulturhus, a great building filled with arts and history exhibits (several of both at the moment!!) Both Friday and Saturday nights Jessica, Tyler and I went to Jessica's friends' houses. I got to meet amazing people!! It was so cool to visit Sweden and get an extremly local experience! No tourists, no traps, just Sweden! I loved it.

Tyler and leaves /
the church had a viiking ship in it, of course :) / old buildings, now an Italian restaurant

Helsingborg ->
Helsingør -> København -> Malmö

20: My flight to Paris is at 18h30. That, to me, was a whole free day (if I woke up before the sun) to see more of Sweden, so I chose Malmo (arriving in a round about way, I admit, but it makes sense to me!) This photo is the sun rising over Helsingborg.
Malmo w
as a really nice city, bigger and more modern Helsingborg, but I missed the traditional charm. This time I got a map in the train station (woohoo!) and hit the road. I saw two museums, both incredible! The first Malmöhus, once a Castle, now the Malmo Museum... modern art and history. My favorite wasKommendanthuset, showing photography of Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin Very good, very... racy. She focuses on sexual minorities and brings Jesus into the picture (A reminder for all: Jesus was helping outcasts!!)

I took a great stop in an organic garden where I sipped on organic tea and munched on an organic cinnamon roll. MMM. I also got a good view of the famous building to the left here... The Turning Torso! My tea bag said "we are spiritual beings having a human experience", it was wonderful to sit with this phrase.

The last stop on my Scandinavian adventure, lunch in the well known and beautiful square built in 1590, Lilla Torg.

Here are some cool buildings in Malmo.... Go to Scandinavia!!!

Bourgogne (BURGUNDY) Oct 11-13, 2008

Five of us (Mom, Dad, friends Bonni and Matthew, and me- shown above in the doorway of the church at the Abbaye De Fontenay) piled into our Toyota on Saturday morning and began our weekend away - off to Bourgogne. We watched the artful architecture of Paris fade into large concrete symbols of industry, to rural homes and agricultural operations, and then "nothing". Of course "nothing" was EVERYTHING we were after. Fields resting for winter, grazing cows, rows and rows of trees in their autum garb, miles of perfectly pruned vineyards, quaint towns you missed if you blinked (or fell asleep, which is my favorite car trip activity).

We stayed in Chablis, yes, as in the wine. We rented a house for the weekend, and the proprietors invited us for a drink of their own family's Chablis. The town itself was small but gorgeous, lots of good food, and we met incredibly nice people... must be the sunshine and good wine.
Our group began talking about scrambling into the hills and exploring the vineyards as soon as we saw our first, so finally, on our last night we did... I got some amazing shots of a nearly full moon lighting the turning leaves on the vines. All of fruit had been plucked to meet its wine-maker, so no samples for us! The image below is the river that flows through Chablis, it was right across the street from the home we rented. Sigh, what a weekend :)

We visited the Abbaye de Vezelay and the towns Auxerre, Avalon, and Joigny. Here are a few more shots I like.

Avalon (side of church with dahlias)

Avalon (look for the horse!)


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spirit, -ed, -s

The title of this blog is the one word that can describe best to you what I have been up to since I last was in touch. Wow. I am really truly alive here, even on the days when I sit at home and do menial online tasks related to my art (which I have been doing plenty).
Mom's friend Rosalie from DC recommended that we go to see a teacher from the Bön tradition who was visiting Paris. It was a 2-day retreat that I attended (a tad reluctantly) on day one. During our lunch break (R) on the 1st day, where we ate at a very gorgeous restaurant near a park (above), we talked about the teachings and I was the only Berry who planned to attend the 2nd day. Ha.

Both days I listened to talks about transcending negative states of mind, achieving a natural state in the moment, and other things that sounded familiar, and truer than anything I'd heard someone on a stage talk about in a long time. I connected deeply with the teachings and the people in the room. I made friends with a group of people from Mexico, and a man from California named Michael. After the retreat was over Michael, Carlos from Mexico, and I went out for SPIRITS.

Carlos has an awesome friend (Tania) who moved to Paris and is engaged to a very cool guy, Tim. Although my friends Michael and Carlos have left Paris to continue their journeys, Tanya and Tim are here, and my new friends. So lucky to have met them!
So I took a trip by myself to Marais, a Jewish neighborhood yesterday. I wandered the streets and so many doors opened for me. First, I found a beautiful bead shop. I have all my beading stuff with me, and finding a store was on my "todo list". I met an American woman in there and she gave me her list (printed in English, woohoo!) of all the bead shops in Paris. Thanks!

I found the main street where the Jews hang out. Falafel, Kosher pizza, Deli, and upscale Kosher restaurants... and a Bakery that I will certainly visit again, wonderful Challah and the BEST APPLE/ POPPY STRUDEL EVER! mmm. Walking around somewhere with so many familiar traditions and cuisines was really fulfilling, special, and fed my inner-Jewish-mother-spirit.
The men in black suits and kippot on the street are ready for Sukkot, its not even Yom Kippur... they were already selling lulavs and etrogs from Israel. They didn't look to pleased to have their pictures taken... I think a Jewish woman in pants who attends Buddhist retreats doesn't quite fit the profile "one of us", which honestly is something I struggle with sometimes. I don't usually feel the need to fit in a box, but do not like the idea of belonging to a tribe where I'm inextricable to "outsiders" and barely pass to some "insiders". Oh well. I like being all over the place spiritually.
Here are some more pictures from Marais (pronounced Mar-ay) where I found beautiful gardens, art galleries, and pieces of myself. I also found very friendly people, including a cool girl my age who was working in a shop where I bought a neat bracelet (it used to be a fork). We exchanged #s and she invited me to go dancing... my 1st Parisienne friend :)

I stumbled into a photo gallery in Marais, I went into many galleries, but this one really resonated with me. I got the email address of the gallery manager, I may show here sooner than I thought! YELLOW KORNER.

Think big for me and yourselves. For those of you fasting on Yom Kippur, may it be an easy fast.

Lots of love!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Apples and Honey in St. Germain en Laye

This morning we took the RER (train) 11 miles outside Paris to a gorgeous suburb, the title of this blog and past home to several of the King Louis and symbolist artist Maurice Denis. Dad and I went straight to Rosh Hashanah services (day 2). It was a short service, mostly familiar, and ended with a drink of Kosher wine that didn't taste like cough syrup. Eat your heart out, Manischewitz, we're in FRANCE now. The real reason we went to a second day of services was just to check out this town.
Even in the rain it was a jewel. A short stroll from the office (literally) where service was held delivered us to a tall iron gate, the once home and studio of Maurice Denis. I stepped in and said to my dad "we're home!" What an amazing estate. We looked at Denis' art (pictured here) for free because one of the rooms was closed. Eden came to mind as I strolled perfectly landscaped plots of roses, black-eyed-susans, and echinacea. There were apples, persimmons, eggplant, rosemary, figs, and broccoli plants. Nurturing both aesthetically and gastronomically, though we didn't take any samples.
I also had my first Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) lesson ever tonight. Mom's teacher is in town from Japan so I tagged along. AMAZING time. I made two arrangements- one very strict and traditional, the other free-style. The teacher said it was obvious I was the daughter of Berry-san. Hehe.
I certainly miss my friends and other things from home, especially after my 1st run to the grocery store- no refried beans, no peanut butter, no hair conditioner. I eventually found conditioner and I mashed my own beans. I did find peanut butter too, and I am ashamed to report how much I paid for it. If you feel generous, please do send me some peanut butter. I like the natural kind, creamy, s'il vous plait.

That's all for now, going to bed early is a must while they continue construction on the apartment below ours. At least I can't loaf around in bed all morning. Up and art at 8am.