Freezing my feet off on a train platform (despite fancy new angora socks and fidgety dance moves) was worth the sight of an almost empty frost-incrusted Chateau de Versailles.

No crowds. Quiet and crisp.

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Frosty dude.

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Perfectly still lake in the gardens.

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The palace with mist and shallow frozen puddles perfect for cracking.

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Royal sheep

Peter Brook turned 90 yesterday and he’s still at it.

I feel very lucky to have seen a couple of his productions in my life. Once, when he brought Sizwe Banzi est mort to Montreal and then when we went to Paris and I finally had the chance to set foot in the Bouffes du Nord theatre.

As a once-aspiring theatre director myself (I am no longer aspiring in the sense that I have more or less given up), he inspired me with his writings and ideas and experiments. His 60-year-old production of Titus Andronicus became the backbone of my MA dissertation (for which I cherish and hate him. The reasons for these feelings will be obvious to anyone who has written a dissertation about anything). One of the most magical (nerdiest?) moments of my research was when I found my way to the theatre museum archives in London and, while leafing through Brook’s prompt book, worked on deciphering his penciled notes in the margins.

He is an important director with a career spanning 65 years. He is still working. And in January, I got to see his production of Beckett’s Fragments at the theatre he found in 1974 as the home for his company.

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Théâtre Bouffes du Nord, before the show

I was happy to be able to smugly say that I would be seeing Beckett in Paris, darling. But I was mostly happy to see the insides of this theatre. I was relieved and thrilled, really, that the building had the same magical feeling that BAM’s Harvey Theater had (also renovated for a Peter Brook production).

You can feel the history, the age, the ghosts in this theatre. The wooden seats, the unpolished clockwork-like ceiling, the distressed paint on the walls… It was great that the performance was funny and moving and that the chosen pieces exposed Beckett’s silly, human side (he can be a bit bleak, can’t he?), but I wouldn’t have cared because the space was so rich in its simplicity (much like Brook’s direction). A bit of history and lots more pictures can be found here.

People of all ages in fancy and/or bohemian Parisian garb sat on the floor in the front rows. We sat on the shallow balcony next to a couple of theatre students with hearty laughs. The place was full.

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This is the inside of the theatre (stolen from Wikipedia).

I was on a high after the show- the theatre, the play, Katherine Hunter’s amazing voice, being in Paris, taking the metro to a neighbourhood I’d never seen, having a boyfriend who will enthusiastically go see Beckett- but the night was still young. There was still steak frites and wine and beer to have and an old friend to see.

My new year’s resolution to write (more often, more consistently, better, at all) has all but been forgotten. But February 17th is a new day and to kick things off around here with a manageable post, to dust off the key board and get back into the world of words, here are some pictures from my recent escape to Iceland and France. Enjoy!

We flew to Paris with Iceland Air, taking advantage of their free stop-over option. Just a short one because Iceland is very expensive. Surprisingly for an expensive place, many hotels and shops and random ice-cream shops in the middle of nowhere will give you free coffee. “No charge,” they’d say. And we’d be happy and warm and awake.

On our first day, the only place we felt we could afford in Reykjavik was a salad and soup buffet- unlimited food and a nice ambiance!  The rest of the time we feasted on grocery-store nibbles (not pictured).

This soup was coconut (Thai-inspired) and delicious and warmed my insides. It was so good I didn't think to take a picture until it was pretty much done.

This soup was coconut (Thai-inspired) and delicious and warmed my insides. It was so good I didn’t think to take a picture until it was pretty much done.

We had heard about some sort of famous hot dogs that are a staple of drunken Icelanders. We put all our krona together and bought a couple.

Don't tell Iceland, but these hot dogs are just as horrible as they look. Both parties got sick after eating these. Never trust weird creamy mustard crap.

Don’t tell Iceland, but these hot dogs are just as horrible as they look. Both parties got sick after eating them. Never trust weird creamy mustard crap.

Our flight to Paris was cancelled due to wind, but we managed to afford another day in Iceland by getting a hotel room and meals paid for (thanks, Iceland Air!)

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This was our official voucher for our dinner at Olsen Olsen, issued by the hotel.

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This is an Icelandic hamburger and fries meal. They have powdered ketchup if you want your fries to taste like ketchup chips.

When we got to Paris (just a day later than expected), we mostly made ourselves baguette with ham and butter, being the thrifty foodies we are. These were eaten in various cemeteries and on basilica steps.

There were exceptions to the ham and baguettes since we wanted to sample Parisian delicacies. Obviously.

We braved the line-up at a very popular “best falafel” place in Le Marais and I didn’t order falafel.

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This is a chicken shwarma as big as my hand.

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This is the chicken schwarma after I ate it (with help).

After walking off the schwarma and falafel, we stopped for your typical patisseries.

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This is a chocolate eclair. I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway done.

Moving on to dinner, Paris is the city to indulge in prix-fixe, multi-course bistro dining.

For my birthday, I was taken to such a fancy-pants establishment. Check out what I ate (all in one sitting!):

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It was such a fancy-pants place that they gave us beautiful bread and a terrine and pickles. I forgot to take a picture before we massacred it.

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Fully knowing it was going to be far too rich for an appetizer, I still ordered a shrimp risotto with squid ink. The presentation was much nicer before I was half-way through with it (pictured here).

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This was some kind of lamb. I might remember what it was more clearly if I had remembered to take a picture before I was done eating.

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Delicious chocolate and cherry dessert. Looks a mess here but was quite nice when it arrived at the table when most instagrammers photograph their food.

We had big plans of avoiding touristy things and just, you know, being in Paris. Instead, we got Nutella-banana crêpes and went up the Eiffel Tower.

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Crêpe et tour Eiffel. Looks gross. Wasn’t.

So that was a compilation of some of the food I ate. One day I will write some posts about the beauty of a frosted-over Versailles, the amazing geothermal wonders of Iceland, and all the things brought into relief when you’re used to travelling solo and then suddenly aren’t.

I know New York. I need New York. I know I need unique New York.

“Hello, poor people!” cried Alan Cumming as the MC, waving his hand at us all the way up in our balcony seats.”This can’t be much fun for you.” We chuckled and we were actually having much fun, but being in New York on a budget can sometimes feel like you’re missing something.

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Broadway can be beautiful and cheap.

During a long weekend in the big apple I must admit that I thought how nice it would be to be rich in NYC.

Having spent my entire budget on somewhere to sleep (and ok, fine, a ticket to Sleep No More- just things related to sleep then), I decided that in New York, like everywhere else, the best things in life should be (and are often if you open your eyes) free.

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Look! A new, sharp, shiny building being a bit moody.

It helped that I was there because I had $25 Cabaret tickets (Roundabout Theatre has cheap tickets reserved for people under 35 at each performance) and to meet up with this guy I like.

I resisted a cashmere sweater with an elephant holding a pink ball with its trunk and didn’t even set foot into the Kate Spade stationery store.

Instead, I watched couples kiss and practice a few shy dance steps in Grand Central Station while I waited for my Baltimore boy to arrive.

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Grand Central Station is a good place to sit down and weep in, but it’s an even better place to dance in.

Instead, we walked in the rain and avoided rats in Central Park.

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Walking in the rain and discovering secret gardens is free!

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Taking multiple pictures of ducks is a cheap and entertaining way to spend a few minutes in New York’s Central Park.

We riffled through antique shops in Chelsea and Williamsburg and window shopped at my new favourite (or only favourite) jewellery store, Adorned by Love in Nolita (I thought we were in SoHo).

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Window shopping in impossibly cool and expensive places.

We found cheap breakfasts and had falafel in the park, splurged on coffees and walked until our feet fell off.

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Walking across the Williamsburg Bridge at sunset… what could be more romantic?

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View from the bridge.

I love New York. I need new York. Know I need unique New York.

When travelling, I love checking out the local markets. Some of my strongest memories include trying to buy lettuce and a tomato from farmer’s market in Bosnia, taking pictures of intense old-lady cheesemongers in Paris, and putting various foods on a stick into my mouth at a night market in Cambodia.

So I was pretty excited to discover that Toronto now hosts a flower market that features local growers, sellers, and stylists. 

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Sometimes Torontonians need it spelled out for them.

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The flower market is pretty hip.

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Getting inspired.

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Wild fields and country in the city.

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I decided to go for it and bought four bunches (for only $20!)

I loved being able to buy flowers- a wonderful perk of not travelling.

I didn’t quite realise exactly how many flowers I’d bought until I tried to figure out where to put them all. It’s a week later and my tiny apartment is still chocked with bright blooms and I’m happy. I try to remember this kind of feeling- the feeling of being home and able to buy myself flowers to liven up my own space- whenever my feet get itchy and my fingers start googling destinations and seat sales.

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I could fit the most stems into my sangria pitcher (in which I have never made sangria). On the dining room table (seen here with butter, sugar, and a brick from the beach at Leslie Spit)

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This is my only actual vase. In the kitchen.

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In a milk-bottle-looking bottle that was bought with orange juice in it in London in maybe 2008 and never re-used until this day. In the kitchen.

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In the entrance in a storage jar.

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In the bathroom in a jam jar.

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In the living room in a balsamic vinegar bottle.

The next flower market will be on September 13th. See you there!

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At the top end of Australia, over a year ago.

One year ago yesterday, my plane from London touched down in Montreal. My mother was there to meet me at arrivals and it felt a bit like one of the Love, Actually airport moments where there’s hugging and jumping up and down and perhaps even a tear of two.

I was home after over a year of travelling around the world. I was home with my mum, ready to celebrate a wedding of a dear friend with old friends, ready to take on the next adventure. A chilled-out, at-home adventure.

That was a year ago.

I’ve neglected this blog because it’s supposed to be about travel and theatre and there has been very little travel and very little theatre in this past year.

Strangely, I’ve only recently started to miss those things, things that I thought defined me more than they ultimately do, I’m realising.

This past year has been amazing and I’ve felt very happy working a 9-5 job, coming home to my one-bedroom apartment, indulging in Netflix, and having long Skype conversations.

But now seems like the perfect time to get back to it all. Shake off the comfortable routine (i.e. laziness).

And it all starts with booking stuff. My credit card has had quite the workout and (if I cover the actual costs- literally, like, with my hand so that I don’t see the numbers), I love looking at the statement. My spending represents who I think I am.

  • Train tickets to Montreal. Discount business class tickets, baby!
  • Tickets to Cabaret in New York. Alan Cumming, wait for me!
  • Tickets to Paris via Reykjavik. In January. But I love Paris when it drizzles. And days with 3 hours of light. Right?
  • And tickets to a couple of SummerWorks plays.

SummerWorks is like the Fringe Festival’s sober sister. The one who has her shit together but still likes to have a good time. But a good time with focus, if you know what I mean. So my tickets are booked for two shows that I know are going to be amazing: He Left Quietly and Unintentionally Depressing Children’s Tales. Check them out.

I’ll also be making myself a calendar of playwriting submission deadlines. So I can watch them go by. Wheeee!

And, mostly, I hope to have many amazing adventures to post here.

 

Yesterday was boring. I barely left my apartment and the sky was grey. I felt a bit lonely, more than I did when I literally was alone on the other side of the world. Even buying myself flowers didn’t make me feel much better.

So today I went out and travelled. I shook myself up and remembered what I love to do: discover the world. Even if it’s only going a few subway stops away.

I got up early (for a Sunday), and made my way east to Corktown, the oldest neighbourhood of Toronto for a Jane’s walk. It was beautiful and sunny and very chilly.

I found out about an 1800 duel caused by some rumours about a lady and that escaped slaves from Kentuky started the taxi company that would lead to the TTC (even if just in colour scheme) and saw the stables where the horses who made cookies for Mr Christie lived.

I saw the first free school and discovered the area is called Corktown because the first wave of immigrants came from Ireland- not necessarily from Cork itself, but still. And because there was a cork factory in the are. And I realised I know nothing much at all about my own city.

Everything was so colourful, I thought I’d share some pictures of this morning:

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A laneway that used to be “muddy and sketchy” (and across the street from the first Loblaws grocers’) and is now hoity toity.

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Pink building and blue sky.

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Workers’ row houses from the 1800s. That’s very old for Canada. Notice the red and white bricks- both made here but at different brickworks.

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Bright Street.

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The Magic Building.

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A guy.

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The Dominion Hotel (attached to the brewery). Now hosts jazz and rockabilly.

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Trees and shadows of trees.

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The Berkeley Cafe, where I used to go for lunch breaks when I used to work in the neighbourhood. A great place to overhear conversations and theatre gossip (lots of theatres nearby).

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The Opera Company and the Berkeley Theatre- old gas works buildings.

I hadn’t been up the CN Tower since I was 6. But with complimentary coupons for the “Experience” in hand and a determination to be tourist in Toronto, we took the subway down to a massively-still-under-construction Union Station after work and went up the empty tower. It used to be the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Before Abu Dhabi broke all the records.

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Walking through the atmospheric sky walk from Union Station to the CN Tower.

I don’t go down to that area of Toronto too often, so I took some pictures:

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This is my city. Tall, shiny, and under construction. Because you can never have too many condos.

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A celebration of the fact that it is still bright and sunny after work. Spring is coming!

After being shot at by air when walking through security (the guard didn’t like me asking what the puffs of air were for, so I didn’t insist on the scientific explanation of what exactly the “firing jets” were actually doing), we went into the elevator that shot up 350 metres. We immediately went to the outdoor observation deck to look at stuff.

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Inside the CN Tower. It was very very windy and it was fun to run into the wind screaming. And watching planes take off from Billy Bishop airport.

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A laskeshore park with parasols (empty and cold).

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Lake Ontario was still a bit frozen.

When we got too cold, we realised there was also an indoor observation deck. So we went there and looked out at the city for hours. We found friends’ buildings, landmarks, and streets. We watched the sun set.

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Toronto from up high.

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As the sun set, I played with the features on my camera.

Who would have thought the CN Tower could be romantic? But it kind of was. Probably because there were very few tourists up there on a cold Tuesday evening.

You’ll notice there are no pictures of me on the glass floor- I managed to stand on it for a minute before losing my mind. It is scary seeing the ground so far below you.

We tried to go to the restaurant. But the rule is you have to get at least an entrée each. And it was very expensive. So we ate half a bagel with peanut butter and jam in the train station’s sad food court to hold us off until dinner.

Because my frugal travel budget of pasta at the hostel extends to real life. And I like it that way.

in80plays:

My lovely friend and co-worker just posted a profile on her awesome blog that is making me blush. And yet here I am re-blogging it. Thanks, Ashley!

Originally posted on Meandering Mac:

elise It’s time for another co-worker! Within the company that I work for there’s a work abroad program that helps students and youth obtain international work visas and provides support once they’re abroad. Elise works for this arm of the company, and this is how I became lucky enough to have this quirky chick in my life.

View original 600 more words

It snowed. A lot. Schools were cancelled and planes grounded. So I firmly crossed my fingers and hoped tomorrow would be different and that I could board a little plane and fly away.

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The Dash 8-100 over snowy fields. I now know things about planes by osmosis and have become nerdy enough that I will go to museums about them (see below).

It stopped snowing, the temperature soared above zero, and I looked down at gradient grey-scale half-frozen lakes and patchworks of white fields.

The propeller was loud (I was in a Dash 8-100 Bombardier aircraft, which I know because I was flying to visit a guy who knows things about planes and makes sure I know these things too), and the bumpy ride made me a bit nauseous. But the one good thing about there not being any low-cost carriers in Canada is that you get ginger ale for free on fancy full-cost flights.

When I landed in Baltimore, it felt like Springtime. Lots of snow, but a warm sun and the sounds of dripping melting thawing everything. Beautiful old houses.

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Pretty sun setting over Baltimore.

After a Valentine’s night of pulled pork on square bread and a wonderfully random review of scenes from London’s National Theatre on TV (where we heard Ralph Fiennes do a South African accent and Judy Dench sing Sondheim), we woke up stupidly early to catch the train to Washington. We nearly missed it because we needed coffee and a muffin very desperately and the lineup for the coffee and muffins in the train station was very slow. But we made it!

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There is the Washington Monument in the background. Grey on grey on grey. With two scrappy snowmen.

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At the National Air and Space Museum, touching the moon rock. A rock from the moon. A ROCK FROM THE MOON! I’m touching a rock from the moon!

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No Jenny wading in this reflecting pool. Not in this weather.

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Lincoln.

It was my first time in Baltimore and my first time in Washington, DC. and though I don’t know what I was expecting, I was surprised. Washington is an actual place and it was surreal to see so many sites made familiar by movies and TV. Baltimore was bright and beautiful, probably because I managed to avoid the drugs and violence of The Wire, though I’m sure it actually exists.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been to a place I’d never been before in a relatively long time, but everything was reminding me of something else, even though they were totally different. In Baltimore, I found that street corner in Sydney, that coffee shop in Denmark, that street in Montreal…

And darn it, my feet are getting a little itchy again to go to all the Somewhere News. 

Top 3 things I will not forget about my quick weekend trip:
– I ate bacon from Tennessee and I will never find bacon that good again.
– I didn’t see Toby Ziegler in Washington.
– Flying out of an international airport that only has 3 flights out per evening is a quick and lonely.

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