Welcome to Brunette à Bicyclettea collection of thoughts, photos, and videos; my digital scrapbook of the people and places I’ve come to love, wherever I happen to be (currently, that’s Washington, DC).
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Monthly Archives: January 2012
One of the most endlessly entertaining things about this city is that it’s practically bursting at the seams with incredible museums, many of whose buildings are often as much a part of the experience as the collections they house. I don’t think I’ll ever really feel like I’ve “done” the Louvre, and the light-drenched Musée d’Orsay is always a pleasure. But sometimes you want to get away from the hoards of tourists trying to check the boxes at break-neck speed (“Everyone got a photo of the Mona Lisa? On to the Venus de Milo! You’ll have to shoot the Winged Victory as we walk.”) The reality is, it simply cannot be done in such a short time, although I don’t blame anyone for trying. Lord knows I’ve done that schlep myself and with just about every visitor I know. But, one of the greatest pleasures about Paris is slowing down, and it’s a shame so many people miss that on such short visits.
So in addition to the “greats,” which have certainly earned their status as such, I love visiting Paris’ smaller, often offbeat museums. There are so many, covering just about anything you can think of, and they’re so worth a visit. Today, I wanted to share one of my favorites with you: la Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (62, rue des Archives, 75003. Closed Mondays).
La chasse means “the hunt” in French, and this museum is dedicated entirely to the relationship between human beings and nature. I’ve never been hunting (nor do I think I’d have the stomach for it if given the opportunity), but this is, in my opinion, one of the most well-executed museums in Paris. It’s tucked away in a rather unassuming building in the Archives area of the Marais, which shows no outward signs of the quirkiness that awaits inside.
I have vivid memories of Chinese New Year in Beijing. It’s a huge celebration and the whole city is covered in red and gold. I remember running from the subway dodging firecrackers (most of which by my estimation were big enough to be considered “fireworks”) to get into our building. We watched from the window of our apartment, which rumbled with their booms and cracks all night long. The Spring Festival is easily the most important Chinese holiday, which begins on the first day of the lunar calendar and runs for not one but two weeks afterward. Continue reading
I don’t know about you, but I feel like the first half of January flew by. I came out of my jet-lag infused post-holiday haze and wham there’s February staring me in the face. As someone who starts counting down the days ’til spring every year right around January 2nd, I’m not griping too much. (I beg to differ, T.S. Eliot. It’s most definitely February.) But, this also means final exams. Unlike most US schools which mercifully wrap up mid-December, in France they save finals for after the holiday break. For those who are used to coming back from the holidays rested and starting anew, having to switch gears and hop into an intense review of everything you did over the course of the semester (and completely forgot about for three weeks or so) is just cruel. M. Luc Chatel, je vous propose qu’on fasse une réforme.
So, I’m working on some Paris posts, but a little preoccupied with les partiels at the moment. Just so you know I haven’t forgotten about you, and to pray your patience, I leave you with bicyclettes.
Few short-term visitors make it past a select few DC institutions, like Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St NW Washington, DC and inside Nationals Stadium), which are beloved by both locals and tourists, Obama, Bill Cosby, and yes even Sarko & Ms. Bruni. I wouldn’t commit such a cardinal sin as to bad mouth the half-smoke, but one can’t live on chili dogs alone. Other popular ones are the Old Ebbit Grill (675 15th St., NW) the various locations of the Jose Andres empire, and Marvin (2007 14th St), which I found to be overhyped after a few visits (the mere presence of bechamel, ham, and bread on a plate does not a croque make). So, as a follow-up to my DC Like a Local Part I, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite places to eat off the tourist track. Continue reading
If you visit Washington for just a short time, you might only see the National Mall, the Smithsonian, and tourists with American flag sweatshirts and white tennis shoes schlepping through it all. Others might think of motorcades, suits, and K St. lobbyists. Or maybe high crime rates, or the terrorist-fighting CIA officers in Homeland. Sure, all of that has at least some sliver of reality in it, but the city has so much more to offer and there’s a lot more to the District that most tourists don’t get to. When I found out I’d be moving to the District, I thought it’d be a good place to go to law school — and it was — but I ended up enjoying the city itself much more than I thought I would. Visiting Z here over the holidays and revisiting some of my favorite places inspired this little walk down memory lane. So, here are some of my top picks for things to do in Washington, in no particular order. And, after you’ve worked up an appetite doing these things, stay tuned for What I like about the District (Part II) for my recs for eating and drinking. Continue reading
2011 was a tough year. Z and I live apart for the first time in almost 6 years (the second long-distance stint in our relationship), and I live alone for the first time in even longer. I started a more demanding Masters program, which has been both a lot of work and extremely satisfying. But it’s meant a lot of studying, writing, and solitary time, and this blog has been both an excuse to get out of the apartment and explore and a way to feel connected. (So thank you, reader!). Both Z and I have high hopes for 2012, which will no doubt involve some big choices for the both of us. So, here’s to a great year!
This past week, Z and I went on an unexpected but much needed vacation to New York, a city that I don’t visit nearly as much as I’d like. Just four hours by bus from DC, too often expense, work, school, anything really got in the way of making our way up there while I lived in the District. But, when Z’s parents offered us their apartment for the long New Year’s weekend, we jumped at the chance. Continue reading