Day 4 Paris Trip: The Latin Quarter and the Jardin du Luxembourg

January 22, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in Anime & Manga, books, Comics, France, General, Manga, Out and About, Paris, photos, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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The last day in Paris was spent with a journey to the Latin Quarter and the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens).

I’ll start with the gardens first. I walked and used the Metro but you might prefer to ride a bicycle. Throughout Paris are bike rental stations  –Velib -where you basically hire it and can return to any other station. For the safety conscious they don’t come with helmets.

Paris 308

Meanwhile, the gardens are home to the French Senate.

Jardin du Luxembourg (20)Jardin du Luxembourg (24)

Extensive grounds.

Jardin du Luxembourg (2)Jardin du Luxembourg (27)

Statues.

Jardin du Luxembourg (3)Jardin du Luxembourg (11) Jardin du Luxembourg (15)Jardin du Luxembourg (14)Jardin du Luxembourg (21)

Chess games alongside the sleeping homeless.

Jardin du Luxembourg (8)

Flower beds and bare trees – presumably the place would be spectacular to walk around in spring.

Jardin du Luxembourg (9)

Or you could play tennis.

Jardin du Luxembourg (12)

Overall, the gardens allow for a relaxing stroll around the grounds. A pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Jardin du Luxembourg (22)Jardin du Luxembourg

Even in the slight chill there are plenty of people taking the opportunity to sit around, contemplate, chat or have lunch.

Jardin du Luxembourg (25)Jardin du Luxembourg (23)

I’ve often complained that London lacks any trash cans and I realise there are safety concerns but it wasn’t until Paris that I realised why even the clear bag option may not work.

Jardin du Luxembourg (10)

Then again perhaps a slightly thicker non explosive/metallic material would still allow for a clean and safe environment?

Once out of the Gardens I took to the Latin Quarter in earnest. Home of higher education for the esteemed university La Sorbonne. Thus almost completing my pained and over stretched analogy of a trip of highs.

Latin Quarter (21)Latin Quarter (27)

Or more cultural highs at the Pantheon. Or, rather I’m sure there would be if I’d actually gone in.

Latin Quarter (22)Latin Quarter (24)

Or the high from finding a real life manga cafe in Paris – near a number of other comic/DVD/book shops. After all it is a university student district.

Latin Quarter (30)

The blue shop is Album comics but while trying to find the URL I stumbled upon the Boulevard des Bulles which is the same area.

Latin Quarter (17)

As the masthead indicates this is Boulinier and on the right down the small Rue Serpente (with a yellow awning) is the small but potentially interesting AAAPoum.

Latin Quarter (12)

Another books shop I stopped in was Shakespeare’s (towards Notre Dame). A well known second hand English bookstore where the staff actually live in the shop. As you walk around you’ll see the folded up beds and the sparse belongings in small piles so as to not disrupt the customers.  

And now a last smattering of photos from the Latin Quarter. Definitely a worthwhile part of the city to get lost in.

Latin Quarter (3)Latin Quarter (16)

Latin Quarter (23)

Latin Quarter (5)Latin Quarter (6)

After leaving the Latin Quarter I picked up my bags from the hotel and headed to the station, Gare du Nord, for my final high. The high speed train.

Gare du Nord (3)Gare du Nord (5)

Arriving back in Kings Cross.

Kings Cross (2)Kings Cross

Overall, I liked Paris, despite warnings I was not prepared for the distances involved. Realistically, I could have packed more in and left a day early but in part this holiday was about taking things relatively slowly and chilling out a bit. For the most part this was accomplished so the next time I make it to France I’ll be able to travel further afield.

Now that I’ve dipped my toe into Europe I doubt it’ll be too long before I’m back on the continent!

More photos on Flickr!

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The Harry Potter Experience (no spoilers)

July 24, 2007 at 11:30 am | Posted in books, Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter, London, reading | Leave a comment

Unless you’ve been under a rock you’d know that the final Harry Potter has now been released. Now gentle readers gather round and listen t the story of one fan and his journey to buy the book at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. Late Friday I begin walking towards the West End and the bookshop from Angel.

At about 11PM I am standing in front of the shop looking out at the beginning of the crowd trying to catch a glimpse of the costumed fans. Standing around me are other passers bys and numerous members of the media taking photos and conducting interviews. I see Weasleys and witches galore.

Now I begin the walk to the back of the line. About 20 minutes later I was at Pall Mall and the last one. For all of 5 seconds before another dozen people were standing behind me. On my way I had seen too many witches and wizards to count but on the whole there were more ‘regular’ people. I wish there had been a greater concentration of fandom and costumes but at any rate I was now in line. Ready and waiting. Emphasis on the latter.

In line I whipped out my DS stuck in my iPod earphones and began the long wait. Occasionally watching some of the street performers who came past. What I never saw were street vendors selling coffee or food to the waiting masses. Surely they would have made a fortune?

Eventually I got bored and started paying more attention to those around me and found that I was fortunate enough that the group behind were a jovial lot and we got along well trading jokes and theories. At around 00:30 we got word that Tim’s sister (one of the guys in the line) had bought the book already at Tesco’s after they basically dumped the book out the front. At this point we became aware of the people behind us – an American family – who other than their child were not at all into the queue. For a brief period we found ourselves looking after their 12 year old son while they went off somewhere. Shortly thereafter one of the group left to try her luck at Borders in Trafalgar, later ringing her friends to say there was a short line but few books. This is how we lost another.

I admit to considering leaving as well but wanted to go inside the largest bookshop in Europe to see what they had on offer.

At the corner and every 5 minutes we were subjected to Father talking to son about the line and wanting to go home so he could sleep. Meanwhile son, Solomon, was insistent on staying. “After all it is the experience!” To which Father replied “this isn’t an experience, it’s a line!”. I can appreciate this line of thought but was still hopeful of seeing something interesting in store.

Perhaps about 2:00 we spoke with a Waterstone’s employee managing traffic and he advised that the in store experience was no done and it was only about purchasing the book. I’m quite disheartened by this and so apparently is Solomon’s Father who after hearing tis quickly takes this news as a chance to take his kid and get out of the line and head home. Knowing things had wound down I would have preferred to purchase my book elsewhere but unfortunately any other shop is likely closed.

So with a stiff upper lip I and my remaining 2 companions stuck out the line until the end as we witnessed hustlers trying to sell the book at £50 as we waited. I don’t think they had any takers. There were also any number of people yelling out alleged spoilers. Lastly, of course were all the people who walked past us as we waited with their Waterstone bags carrying their precious cargo.

Oh wait precious is another book altogether.

At long last we were almost inside the building and were met by some surprisingly cheerful staff and upon entering we even got a clap! Now that’s an experience is it not? Worth the wait.

On the ground floor I’m offered a copy of the book and quickly cross the small space to the cashier. Again the staff member is friendly and attentive. I’m surprised by their attitude given the hour. After all I’ve only had to stand for 3 hours, whereas they’ve done this plus serve a few thousand customers. Kudos Waterstone staff.

I said my final farewells to my line buddies and began the walk home and at last arrived just after 4:30. Went to the local 24hr supermarket, gathered up copious amounts of junk food and got cosy in my room and read for about an hour.

Crashed for a few hours, woke up at 9 and then read most of the day.

At long last I finished the book. Without spoiling I’ll say simply that it was a a good book and ended the series in a reasonable manner. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation of the last two novels.

I’ve been told I’m a fanboy and a geek for going through all this trouble. I admit it. I am. And it was worth it.

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