Posts Tagged ‘Champs-Elysées’

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one night in paradise. (photos from our trip to Paris)

February 25, 2012

This evening Toby and I got back from our overnight stay in Paris – it was a late anniversary gift to one another to celebrate 2 years of being together and very much in love! The last time I went to Paris I was on my year abroad from my undergraduate degree at Oxford, and I was there for a week with my father. This time, although the holiday was much shorter, it was even more special 🙂 It was a pain-free journey on the Eurostar, but we made up for the lack of pain by doing about 12 miles’ worth of walking! We didn’t use any public transport once, and the weather turned out to be very nice so we took full advantage. Firstly we had some lunch near the Palace of Justice:

Then we headed to Notre Dame cathedral:

From here (on the island in the middle of the Seine) we caught a riverboat tour of Paris, which enabled us to see lots of the sights and find out a little more history about Paris from a strongly-accented French woman who was studying English.

After the riverboat tour, we crossed the Seine on the Pont des Arts, a bridge to which lovers attach engraved padlocks (or padlocks with their names written on them) to celebrate their love. Next time Toby and I go to Paris (there will be a next time, I’m pretty sure!), we will bring a padlock of our very own. 🙂

We then walked to the Louvre and saw the glass pyramid:

… and the Obelisk:

After this very long walk, we checked into our hotel near the Champs-Elysées in the 8th arrondissement, and had a little lie-down, changed our clothes, and then we were off again to the Champs-Elysées itself!  At the top, we saw the Arc de Triomphe (and its mad traffic system – or lack thereof!):

We stopped and had a coffee and a croissant, and then went for a twilight walk along the river towards the Eiffel Tower. Things started getting more and more perfect…

I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City when she goes to Paris (before she starts getting miserable and stuff). Look, we were even on an appropriately-named street!

There was this cool monument:

And this one:

Sure enough, as twilight approached the Eiffel Tower slowly but surely lit up, and it was the most romantic thing I have seen. I felt so special, and Toby and I were just in awe. We took many pictures (Toby had wisely brought his big camera) as things got more and more amazing. And then at 7pm, the tower started glittering with strobing lights:

It was so perfect! We strolled along further, taking more pictures – at each end of the bridge by the Eiffel Tower was a carousel which lent a touch of old-French kitsch to proceedings:

We decided that if we lived in Paris, it would not be totally awful. We finally headed back to the hotel and found a restaurant (appropriately called “The 8th Arrondissement”) which sold nice, if somewhat bizarre food! This morning, after a very long and restful sleep, we walked to a bakery and had a traditional continental breakfast of croissants and coffee before walking up to the Sacre Coeur, which has breathtaking views.

We dodged the sellers on our walk down and headed back to the Gare du Nord:

…where we had a yummy dinner with a proper, more traditional burger in a restaurant that played only Lady Gaga, before finally making our way back to London.

I can’t believe that we were only in Paris for just over 24 hours; we packed such a lot in that it feels like we had a full week’s holiday! But not only was it romantic (Paris + glittery Eiffel Tower = love) but it was exactly what I needed. A getaway from everything, which allowed to recharge emotionally and forget everything that was bringing me down. Work appears to have resolved itself somewhat, and the rest of my annoyances can buzz off for now. I know that I will always be a sensitive and somewhat neurotic person, but ultimately, life is very good now and I am happy. And when I have vacations like this, I am reminded just how happy I am. 🙂

— PS. I also have a corresponding post on my tumblr!

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Brooke knows best.

July 15, 2009

Yesterday I received this tweet from an online buddy of mine:

DonCortez@onyxparadise you losin’ cool pts. with that B. Hogan commentt smh

Allow me to explain.  In the last week or so, I’ve been notching up the ipod plays on Brooke Hogan’s new mixtape Judgment Day. I downloaded her first album Undiscovered when it came out, and it took me until a trip to Paris and the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysées (where I also finally managed to pick up Tamia’s stellar Between Friends album, and Lumidee’s Undiscovered which was a surprisingly strong listen) until I could get my hands on the cd.  By this point, some of the album was admittedly filler but other songs had revealed themselves to be pleasantly solid :

Those are my two highlights from the first album.  At the time, Brooke Hogan was being compared with Paris Hilton, who had also come fresh off reality tv success and had just released a pop album.  Both albums pretty much bombed on the charts, but the feeling was that Paris’ album was the better of the two because the songwriting was so solid.  When it came out, I played Paris’ album quite a lot and the songs were guilty pleasures, but nowadays Brooke Hogan is the one that I’m still playing. The two songs above are examples of solid contemporary R&B/Pop songwriting, and I still play them regularly today.  Vocally, Brooke Hogan isn’t going to be Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera anytime soon, but she can sing rings round Paris Hilton, and on her new album The Redemption it’s apparent that her vocals have improved.

IMO, some of the songs on the mixtape are better than some which made the album.  The Judgment Day mixtape has more of a credible urban feel, whereas The Redemption album proper is more poppy, though there are still some R&B tracks to be found.  Between the two, there is an album’s worth of strong material, and I’m definitely going to get repeated spins out of them. I think that although I’m more or less oblivious to what happened on Hogan Knows Best and Brooke Knows Best, and although my knowledge of her rift with her mother (explored on the album’s incendiary “Dear Mom…”) is limited since I stopped reading Perez Hilton (and you should too, he is a prize fool), I enjoy what I enjoy and Brooke Hogan makes solid music and has a serviceable voice, whatever her reputation.  And that is what’s most important to me when I’m listening to someone on my ipod, because although it’s inevitable that we want to know the background to our favourite stars and new celebrities alike, it’s not their reputation who sings on the record or crafts their beats.

So I just thought I would defend myself against my friend’s lil’ comment at me, haha, and also dedicate some time out of my own personal life to promote Brooke Hogan, because if I were in her shoes, I would appreciate some helpful promotion so that my music got heard.  After all, I’ll be in that position soon enough, here’s to hoping!

To close, some of the best new songs from the Judgment Day mixtape (the first two videos) and Redemption album (the last three).  Check them out!