Friday, February 25, 2005

Is that a Pinot in your yoga mat or are you just happy to see me?

Remember when I said that London had "big" litter? In the first few minutes of walking in London on my recent mini-break, friends and I happened on the above sneakers. Why? Why perfectly good sneakers in the street? We were walking home from the Lonsdale, a designy bar in Notting Hill. A bit too hip for me, really, but Shani, the birthday gal, (see flailing gal in pink frock above) loves it. As I arrived from Budapest well into cocktail hour, Shani instructed me to take a taxi from Victoria Station directly to the Lonsdale. I arrived, suitcase and yoga mat in hand, and announced to the gentleman manning the cloakroom that I was "feeling lucky tonight." Silly me.

I've got a new trick up my sleeve. Or rather up my yoga mat. Remember I mentioned my Poppins-esque knack for packing? Rolled up in the aforementioned yoga mat was a lovely Hungarian pinot noir for the birthday gal. I've solved a dilemma that has plagued me since my 19th year when I summered in Angers, France: namely, how one is to safely transport wine in one's luggage. It's genius, isn't it?

On Friday after spending the morning recovering from cocktails (I think it was the Rose Petal Martini that did me in), I hustled while Shani was at work. I saw little outside of Notting Hill the last time I visited, and I wanted to take full advantage of my time in London. I was a crazy person, literally running through the tube stations and elbowing hapless Londoners out of the way. I spent the afternoon in Bloomsbury and the British Museum. The latter holds many marvels, and many iliac crests. What is an iliac crest? you ask. The iliac crest is that most lovely curvature that runs from the male pubis out and upwards marking the boundary between leg and torso. Please witness a stunning example below, from the Parthenon's pedimental sculpture (GIVE THE ACROPOLIS MARBLES BACK TO GREECE!). Gorgeous, isn't it? My favorite professor in undergrad, the eminently inspiring Dr. Donna Sadler, once told us that she knew of an art historian who spent her entire life studying and comparing iliac crests. But I have too, in my way. Wink wink.

I also stood in jaw-dropped revery at the sight of a trio of ancient Greek sea nymphs, from what is modern day Turkey. Witness the way in which the sea spray has soaked their drapery. The thin, wet fabric clings to the nymph's ecstatically female body. I myself am thinking of giving up this historic preservation stuff, and becoming a sea nymph instead.

Friday night Shani took me to a teeny Italian corner eatery that she has frequented for many years. So tiny, that people can only be seated around the periphery of the small rectangle that comprises the restaurant. Sometime between my linguine and my pannacotta, I heard James Brown. I got that feeling. It was time for another installment of dancing in alternative spaces. I got up, stood in the center of the restaurant, and shook and gyrated. I normally expect to be received with pointing and laughter, but after a few minutes of dancing, everyone in the restaurant started wildly applauding! English are the last people I would expect to appreciate spontaneous dancing (ok maybe Norwegians or Swiss), so I was very gratified by such an outpouring of appreciation.

Walking home, Shani and I saw the most beautiful thing: a 70-80% off sale at Diane von Furstenberg!

On Saturday there was shopping to be done. Shani and I rendez-voused with the lovely Kate for a glorious afternoon frock-perusing, truffle-eating, and perfume-sniffing. Kate took us to the Jo Malone store, where a very obliging woman introduced me to the wonders of the "Fragrance Testing Booth." The Fragrance Testing Booth is a closed glass cabin where you choose from a menu of available scents, and then your chosen scent, without the alcohol, is wafted into the room via a small aperture. I WAS IN HEAVEN. I need to have a fragrance testing booth in my house. If you know me at all, you know I am ruled by smell. I became very proprietary very quickly with the FTB-- huffing in nutmeg and ginger, mandarin, and lime basil oh my! Witness Shani below caught up in a fever of fig and amber.

After an afternoon meal of crab hash with lemon aioli and baguette with shallots and anchovies in stunning former 1920's car showroom The Wolseley on Piccadilly, it was time to part from the lovely Kate. Here we are standing in front of the Tube map.

On Monday it was back to running through the tube station to see as much as I could. Below is the so-called gherkin, Norman Foster's Swiss Re building, gleaming like a, a shiny gherkin in the horizon.

I enjoyed some fabulous views from the Tate Modern: witness below the one taking in Foster's Millenium Bridge.

The Tate Modern is a rehabilitated industrial building with seven floors featuring permanent exhibitions, a floor for temporary exhibitions (currently Joseph Beuys and August Strindberg), and a cafe/restaurant on the glass-enclosed top floor from which you can appreciate the built environment whilst sipping a glass of Sangiovese. The museum also makes good use of the dramatic Turbine Hall below, which is currently animated by a chorus of bouncing and echoeing sound samples chosen and arranged by Bruce Nauman.

I got a much better sense of London this time, but still I've only scratched the surface. London is vast, and there is so much to see and do (and eat and smell). It's much more flash and brass than my tattered beauty, Budapest. Today as I walked to the market, everything Hungarian seemed especially tender to my eyes. Outside the market, two ancient and wizened Hungarian women with scarves around their heads stood in the tram stop median. One held two pitiful home-made bouquets of greenery with blue and pink berries, and the other had a small cardboard box with a hodgepodge of beans and nuts. I bought the sad little bouquets, probably cut from a bush near her home in the countryside, for 500 forints (this is like 2.50 US). And somehow they seem lovelier to me than anything I saw in a London shop window.


At 6:52 PM, Blogger Guilherme said...

My dream since some time is to visit your city, after visiting your blog with more will I was. Beautiful faces in a beautiful city become irrecusable :)

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

Hello Guilherme,

Thank you for visiting my bloggy, but please do come visit Budapest. She's quirky, a bit quiet, doesn't go about flashing her wares like some hussy cities. But come and look carefully, and you will be rewarded. I couldn't see your blogger profile, so you are mysterious, but thank you for your nice words. "Beautiful faces in a beautiful city become irrecusable." That may stick with me for a while.

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry i don't want to be rude. Here is the link to my blog it's in portuguese but you always can look the images :)
There's a link for Lisbon Photos the place where i live.
Please make your self confortable like i use to say "mi blog es su blog" ;)
I will become an assiduous consumer of your blog if it won't inconvenience you
My bad English is training lack I'll try to get better

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

Your English is GREAT!! You should hear my Hungarian! (or rather, you shouldn't) Lisbon! I am so excited to have someone reading my bloggy from Lisbon. I will check out your pictures-- I've heard that it's fantastic. Sadly, its true: I don't understand Portuguese, but I just might understand a word here and there that it might make it evocative and poetic.

(Do they say "ciao" in Portugal? They use "ciao" even in German-Switzerland. I think it must be universal)


At 11:49 AM, Blogger Planethalder said...

You write as deliciously about London as you do about Budapest. I'm so glad I discovered your blog (by accident). Planethalder from London.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...


Köszi szépen! That's very kind. I'm glad you found my blog as well because I got to find out about the Africa Remix exhibition. I saw an announcement about it and was curious. You have a lot of inspiration packed into your web site. Thanks so much for coming by.

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shop at your favorite stores 24 hours a day. Why go to the mall when you can shop online and avoid the traffic

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shop at your favorite stores 24 hours a day. Why go to the mall when you can shop online and avoid the traffic

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