Unexpected in June

I did not do a May edition of Unexpected Things since I spent half of the month in Europe and really, who knows what to expect in foreign countries, but in June I was surprised to come across these things:

Surprise gifts from a stranger on the bus. He pulled out several of these newspaper cranes and gave them to nearby passengers.

A porcelain doll on the sidewalk.

Fun window art.

The OO! bus.

Windows to nowhere/everywhere.



So, it's the longest day of the year. I sort of celebrated this on Saturday with the awesome Fremont Solstice Parade, which included naked bicyclists, a spaghetti monster, a volcano which erupted in a crescendo of music, and a giant yellow submarine, but today and the rest of the weekend has been pretty blah. I've been enjoying the long evenings for sure, but we really need some sun here. Seattle, it's summer time! Let's make this happen.


SIFF time in Queen Anne

Last week I watched The Wedding Cake as part of SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival). I have been reading the guides and wanting to go for a few years now but never managed to make it to a movie, so I was very excited to finally go. The movie was funny and, as its name suggests, it had an awesome scene involving a wedding cake.

We wandered around Queen Anne for a while before and after the movie and stumbled upon this awesome park where these colored lights change and fade into other colors. And I always enjoy the clever messages on this bar's sign.


Dad's cabin

I still have some travel photos I want to post, but I feel like getting back to every day life today and every day life included a visit to my dad's cabin. The cabin is located on some property near Monroe and is one of those middle of the woods, get away from it all kind of places. There is no running water or electricity up there and only one place where you can make cell phone calls ("call rock"). The previous owner logged the property so my dad has been working on restoring it: replanting trees, making trails, building a shed, stuff like that. He's got big plans for it and I like watching how things progress.

A bunch of my aunts and uncles and a few cousins were in town for my grandma's birthday so we had a little family extravaganza with cake in a park and then a caravan up to the cabin. There we ate tin foil dinners roasted on the campfire, rode the ATV around, did a little target practice with the BB gun, and played a little get-to-know-you game my dad invented. It was an overall awesome time.


Père Lachaise

Père Lachaise is now one of my favorite places in the whole world. I wasn't expecting this. I only came here to see this guy:
because he was featured in Paris, je t'aime and the cemetery was at the end of the #69 bus tour recommended by Rick Steves.

But I got here and it was about 85 degrees and I was sweating like crazy and listening to Fruit Bats on my ipod and it was one of those perfect moments that feels like a dream, like I stumbled upon something too good for real life. The sky was a perfect bright blue and the enormous trees cast shadows everywhere and provided some relief from the heat. There were cobblestone pathways and plenty of reasons to leave them and explore the beautiful old graves and monuments. I wandered with my camera out for hours, listening The Ruminant Band on repeat because it made the perfect soundtrack. I took a leisurely lunch break at a nearby cafe and sipped a refreshing glass of Chardonnay and then plunged back into the cemetery. I even came back for another few hours another day because I couldn't stay away from this place. I want to see it in all seasons, all times of day. I am coming back.



Paris is so beautiful. After getting lost trying to find my hostel and then lugging my backpack up four flights of winding stairs I was greeted by this sight:
and I knew Paris would be wonderful. How could it not be when I knew I had this view to come back to every night?

I loved the gorgeous architecture and the beautiful parks and the slow pace of life there. It was so wonderful to sit in a cafe or restaurant and enjoy a delicious meal without feeling rushed at all. And of course I loved the croissants and baguettes and pastries.

I met some really cool people in my hostel and the nights were so much fun. We went to a jazz bar, had late night picnics outside, sampled many bottles of cheap French wine, and stayed up late telling traveling stories and making lists of the places we need to visit in the future.

(I love how the red and pink couple bring out the red and pink the the arch. Awesome!)

This day was so rainy and it created reflecting pools on the ground. I loved looking at the ground first and seeing these majestic old buildings and statues, and then looking up and seeing them again.



Greenwich day was my favorite London day. It was so nice to get away from the crowds and go somewhere beautiful and calm. There were really interesting museums, a pretty waterfront full of picnickers (including myself), a large grassy park, and a cool tavern.

My favorite place here was the Royal Observatory, which was divided into 2 areas for time and space. Both sides were interesting, but the space side reminded me how much I love that stuff. I felt like an excited little kid being learning about planets and stars and black holes and possible life out there...It was really fun! There was a room that displayed photos and characteristics of each of the planets in our solar system (I was a little sad Pluto was no longer included) and you could vote on which planet you'd like to visit on vacation. I picked Jupiter. I was disappointed in the number of people who chose Earth.

I stopped at Trafalgar Tavern for a beer and a snack and the band who had been playing at the nearby university stopped in with all of their marching gear, which was pretty cool. Apparently Charles Dickens liked to hang out at this place.

And I loved watching this guy from above as he appeared to be gathering supplies for an art project.

I took a boat back down the Thames to get to central London, which was awesome. Then I met up with a very cool artist I met in my hostel. She was in town for an exhibit and used to live in London and said I could not leave the city without experiencing "pub culture" so she took me to a few of her old favorite spots. It was the perfect end to a great day.

PS Thanks for your comments on my previous post, everybody! They really made my day.



London is awesome. I loved walking around the streets with my ipod in and my camera out, taking photos of the gorgeous architecture and anything else that struck me as interesting. Those little rows of chimneys are my favorite. They were everywhere and made me very happy. Touristy things tend to make me cranky with the crowds and waiting in line, so I avoided most of the major sites. I felt kind of guilty about that, but tried to remember that this was my trip and the advantage of traveling alone is that I get to do whatever I want! One of the things I did instead of touristy things was try to ride every Tube line at least 3 stops and get out an explore a stop with a fun name.

In high school I read this book about a man who bet his honeymoon tickets that he could ride the entire Underground system within 24 hours. I studied the Tube map along with the protagonist and thought about where these fun names like Picadilly Circus and Covent Garden would lead to and dreamed about when I would see these places for myself. I look for this book whenever I visit a used bookstore and can never find it, which is unsurprising since the book was really nothing special and probably did not sell many copies, but for some reason I can't get it out of my mind. I was hoping I'd find it in London, but no such luck.

I did enjoy a few touristy things, like Trafalgar Square with those cool lions and the fountain and the National Gallery. I also really liked Shakespeare's Globe, where I stood for a performance of King Henry VIII. The Notting Hill farmers market was cool but crazy crowded as you can see and everyone was taking photos of those adorable Easter egg houses.

Other awesome things about London include:

* London's huge number of parks. There seemed to be a park on every block. I love that.
* Great little shops like this kitchenware place in South Kensingston. My favorite shop was Persephone, where all the books are bound in a beautiful light grey with patterned inside cover.
* Street art. The pink people live on Brick Lane, where I got fantastic curry.

PS If you are going to London, definitely check out this comprehensive guide.