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玻璃之城

转眼又回到旧金山了。

坐车从公司回家的时候,不由得又想起伦敦。我住得那条有枫树和银杏的街,坐2路公车去上班,24路去中国城或SOHO吃饭,11路去利物浦街夜宵,坐district线地铁去博物馆或音乐厅,维多利亚线去火车站,走路去听大本钟报时, 去特拉法加广场的美术馆看鲁本斯拉斐尔米开朗基罗特纳提香莫奈或梵高,过河去滑铁卢逛书摊发呆,去Somerset House看时装展,去Fortnum & Mason喝下午茶,去圣马丁教堂听音乐会,去牛津街血拼,去东伦敦看手工艺展或者买醉,去Shard 39层就着伦敦塔吃个午饭,去Heron Tower 40层喝杯香槟,去Daunt书店看一本小说,去苏富比看一场拍卖,去west end看一出音乐剧,或者去海德公园坐旋转木马喝红酒,夜晚穿过St James公园的小桥回家,看河上成群的鸭子和天鹅,还有倒映水中蓝色的伦敦眼…

每个人心里都有一座除家乡以的梦想城市。以前我以为我会爱香港或者纽约更多,但现在却觉得我最爱伦敦,从来没有一座城市让就算我一个人每天也能过的如此精彩。

London Journal – Nov 28 (Book Market & Mozart)

Thanksgiving in the US means my extra days off in London. This year I’m thankful that I’m not in the states during Thanksgiving. It’s a dreadful holiday day where nothing opens and lucky people whose family are in the same continent all go home, leaving me on my own, reflecting on why the hell I am in a strange country all by myself.  But in London, it can actually be a fun day. 

Around noon I took the No.24 bus to Chinatown. It turns out taking 24 during the day was a mistake. It barely moved at all on Whitehall given the massive tourist traffic, and I could have arrived Leicester Square sooner on foot. As an adventure I picked a Hong Kong style diner that I haven’t tried before, but it also turned out to a disappointment. 

Afterwards I ventured to Waterloo via tube (Hah, can’t escape Waterloo can I). There’s a lovely 2nd hand book market on Southbank. Under the Waterloo bridge, there are several long tables with tons and tons of books on them. 4, 5 sellers scattered at the end of these tables, chatting or reading beside huge empty book cases. Most books aren’t organized in any particular order, so you’d have to browse through them one by one. Prices are very reasonable. There are a few rare books, some are even over 200 years old, but only casually wrapped in plastic for protection. Many first edition of Penguin classics are from the early-mid 20th centuries, and a wide selection of old maps/prints between late 19th century to early 20th century are available at the end. Picked up an English history book, a novel, and a piano music sheet for around 8 pounds; a 1907 hand colored print of Hyde Park autumn for 20. Not bad at all! The pages in these books are yellow and fragile, but I love the old fashioned typesetting and font.

It was almost dark after I paid for my latest acquisition, so I started walking home through the Christmas market on Southbank. Christmas markets were originated in Germany. A month before Christmas, many streets would start building temporary markets with cute little cabins (usually decorated in pine branches and sparkly lights), selling everything that’s slightly related to Christmas. Lights, candles, spices, decorations, ornaments, jewelry, souvenirs, oil paintings and even soaps. There are also food stalls, German sausages, roasted chestnuts, hot ciders and mulled wine formed a delicious festive smell in the air, complimenting the atmosphere of the market. Things at these markets are usually hugely overpriced (especially food and drinks), but it doesn’t stop them from getting more popular all over Europe. The Christmas markets in London are more grand than ever. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park even had an entire Bavaria village built from scratch, with numerous food stands and huge beer garden inside. It was very impressive as it mimicked almost exactly what I saw in Munich.  Here in Southbank, the little wooden cabins are sparkling with Christmas light. In the background, Silent Night is played gently, River Thames flows as it does for thousands of years, Big Ben is standing across the river in dim yellow light, the London Eye is calmly rotating just a few steps ahead of the market. People’s faces are lit by candle lights, all looking rather happy. During this time of the year when the sun sets at 4 and the air is cold, perhaps people need a holiday to celebrate or simply to look forward to so the days are less dull. 

At around 7pm I wandered to St Martin in the Fields at Trafalgar Square for an evening concert. This is a church dated back to the medieval times which has gone through many reconstruction. The Neo Classical building we are seeing today was built in 18th century. It’s most famous for its music. There are free lunch concerts on every weekday, chamber orchestra at evenings and all sorts of other music events such as Jazz nights, piano recital, etc. Recordings of Academy of St Martin in the Fields are sold internationally. Tonight the chamber orchestra, choir and 4 opera singers are performing Mozart’s The Requiem Mass in D Minor. As the performance starts, the light was turned down, candles were lit, a perfect atmosphere for Requiem. The Requiem is very well known thanks to the movie Amadeus, but it was my first time to listen to it in full. It was an exceptional piece, I especially enjoyed the Choir’s singing. In the first half they’ve also played some other lovely pieces by Mozart and Verdi. The Requiem was played in the 2nd half. It was more a rather dramatic piece, but also very long. Some of us were holding our breadth between movements, while others (like the gentleman behind me) were falling asleep. I can totally sympathize with them though. Imagine you are forced to put on some decent clothes, dragged to a church by your date or wife, sitting on an uncomfortable bench with partial view to the orchestra, listening to the Tenor singing in some foreign language… It wouldn’t be very easy to stay awake would it. 

 

 

London Journal – Nov 14/15th

Clear sky and golden leaves in November, how can one get tired of looking at them?

The days are bright under high pressure, but the temperature has finally dropped to single digits. Overnight, the ginkgo trees seem to have shed half of their leaves. It’s still beautiful in a more tragic way. Putting on a thick trench coat, wrapping myself in grandpa’s old scarf, keeping my hands in the pocket, and taking a deep breath of this crispy air. The winter is finally coming, and I need to stock up on some vitamin D.

There’s one restaurant that’s been particularly trendy in London. The name is clear and concise: Burger & Lobster.

There’s no menu, only three dishes are served: Burger, lobster and lobster roll.

For 20 pounds each, it doesn’t take a genius to figure which is the most popular one.

In a city like London where a depressing plate of salad can easily cost 10 pounds, a meal of lobster, salad and fries for 20 pounds is truly a steal. Thus it’s not surprising that this place has become enormously popular, and has expanded to 4, 5 branches in London. I tried to go to the Soho branch once and the queue was 2.5 hours at 5pm. A little too ridiculous even for this crazy foodie. Today we chose the Farringdon branch. It had a 20 minute wait at 7:45, and there’s a nice bar area to wait about. Not bad at all.

The lobster was very fresh. You can get it steamed or grilled. The steamed version with a dash of lemon juice and a light cider was absolutely heavenly.

The little bakery near work was unusually busy at lunch time, but I managed to get a spot. It was pleasant to read Hemingway’s Moveable Feast while devouring a cinnamon bun. It’s a journal about his early years in Paris, has some very interesting insights of his famous friends, such as Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There’s nothing too heavy in the book (so far). It’s utterly honest, but not vicious, and thoroughly enjoyable.

There are more and more challenges at work as my project progresses. Some people like pacing when they get stuck. For me, I crave for things to snack on. A few slices of dried mango, an apple, half bag of crisps, it’s a blessing and a curse to have a fully stocked kitchen at work.

The news has reported that another London cyclist got hit by a bus and died earlier this morning. This is the 5th cyclist death in 9 days. Obviously some roads were not designed wisely, but London bus drivers really do drive like they are on racing tracks.  I fear for my life every time I step down the stairs from a double deck bus, and it’s not unusual that passengers get thrown from one side to another because the bus started so abruptly. Patience is never Londoner’s strong suit.

But I love the city, nonetheless.

(My first attempt to write a blog entry in English, just to practice a little. Please bear with the bad writings).

伦敦日志 – Nov 10 (Remembrance Sunday)

上午11点,大本钟肃穆的钟声刚过,一声炮响。

整条街安静到一阵风吹过树叶的声音都清晰可闻。

长长的Whitehall两边挤满了人,在这繁忙城市平日数一数二最繁忙的街上,这两分钟里,却无声无息。

两分钟过后又一声炮响,女王着一身黑衣别着小红花向战争纪念碑献上花圈。每年11月11日之前一个星期天的11点,在这里都会举行这个仪式,来纪念两次世界大战以及之后各种战争中牺牲的人。

whitehall离家很近,九点多久和高中同学一起来凑热闹。靠近路边的地方早就站满了人,于是我们爬到栏杆上坐着,才勉强在高大的英国人群中露出了脑袋。十点多各个军团开始入场,戴着各种各样高大的帽子站在路的两侧,让本来已经拼命伸长脖子看的群众看得更加费劲。女王出现的时候现场也很安静,大家只是默默的举起了相机一阵狂拍,然后她老人家的身影就被淹没在一片大熊皮帽子里。女王率领一家老小上前献花, 凯特王妃在楼上观礼,此情此景,伦敦独有。

这几个星期英国人纷纷别上红花瓣黑芯的poppy,以示勿忘国殇。这传统在加拿大和澳大利亚也有,但据说小花略有不同,规模比较小,在伦敦这些传统似乎总是更受重视。在滑铁卢的时候university ave上有一座纪念碑,十一月时也会被放上花圈, Tim Hortons什么的也会发小红花。

女王献过花以后,伦敦的主教带领大家说祈祷词。虽然并不是教徒,却很喜欢听祷告,喜欢那一刻不由自主的单纯平静。在这个晴朗的秋日,几万个由各处来观礼的人一起低声念:

Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive them that trespass against us
And lead us no into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom
The power and the glory
For ever and ever. Amen

烈士家属们和各个军的老兵列队献花,身穿各种各样的军服,佩戴着一排排的勋章,很多坐着轮椅。之后整个下午Whitehall各处(尤其是小酒吧里)都充斥着他们的身影。

在栏杆上坐了三个小时,冻得直哆嗦,之后直奔中国城吃火锅。 五个人25道菜涮一锅,吃到走不动道,但味道其实一般。沾了一身火锅味,觉得连头发都是油的。 天黑的越来越早,四点多太阳就消失了,回家的时候看到一队穿着苏格兰裙的老兵列队而过,有苏格兰风笛相伴,也有警车开道。越来越爱听风笛声,于是跟着他们走了一段。

晚上跟着佩珊去一个小酒吧看球,结果只看了个结尾,阿森纳输了一球,但热Cider很好喝!

金色维也纳 – Day 2

维也纳第二日

10.14

婧婧一大早就跟爸妈回国了,我则多呆一天,退了房,行李寄存好,挎上包和相机自己在维也纳流浪。

早餐没出息的去了麦当当。服务员英语烂态度差,但鸡肉早餐包好挺好吃,欧洲麦当当的咖啡也比较好喝。

先去了城市公园。里面施特劳斯金色的塑像很有名(俗称小金人),本来贯穿整个公园的大水渠不知何故完全干了,剩下光秃秃的河床。可能是我被伦敦纽约的那些大公园宠坏了,觉得它纵然可爱,却没什么可圈可点之处,并不需要特别前往。

艺术史博物馆礼拜一休息,只好改计划去了albertina美术馆。据说它馆藏十分丰富,但只展出了小部分,且现代画作居多,大多都让我理解不能。特别展览是Matisse和野兽派,二十世纪初兴起的风格,着重色彩和类似印象派的表达,但对我来说有点过于粗糙了。门票不便宜,展出作品却这么少,幸好这个建筑本身是某贵族的宅子,有些漂亮房间是开放展出的,还可以听皇室八卦,总算稍微值回票价。

逛完美术馆,转弯到街对面婧婧推荐的拍卖行转转,正好有下星期拍卖的预展。里面出人意料的好!几层楼满满都是拍卖的物品,按类别分开展示,上面有编号和估价。油画非常多,年代从十六世纪到十九世纪都有,价格也相差很大。有些看上去很不错的画作,要是有房子真想买回去做装饰。还有诸多银器,瓷器,饰品,还有少量家具。最让我流连的是珠宝,数目非常可观的钻石,成色好但款式老的蓝宝石和祖母绿,天然珍珠的饰品,有些估价并不贵,好想买一两件,可惜等不到拍卖会。唉,年纪大了就是会被亮闪闪的宝石吸引,小时候觉得这些都俗透了。来看预展的大多数都是时髦老太太,两三个结伴,通常都品味很好,这么有尊严有乐趣的老去也不错。

恋恋不舍的从拍卖行出来,就又走到了皇宫。本来想看看西西公主博物馆,翻了翻册子觉得似乎没太大意思,也走累了,就溜进旁边的咖啡厅,享受蛋糕,茶和免费WI-FI。服务很不错,点的“莫扎特”蛋糕味道很好。

从皇宫旁边的大道走回喷泉广场。此时阳光普照,人也变得懒洋洋。维也纳老城的街道比伦敦宽阔好多,也没那么拥挤,放慢脚步,看看钢琴店的橱窗,张望一下酒店里的餐厅酒廊,磨蹭好久才回到那大喷泉那儿。

旁边有个老人在拉手风琴,琴声悠扬,曲调熟悉。于是坐下,晒着太阳听完一曲,放下枚硬币再继续走我的路。

再往前就走回了离公寓不远的美景宫。美景宫是哈布斯家族欧根亲王的夏宫,巴洛克风格。欧根亲王死后几经辗转又由著名的女皇玛利亚特里萨买回皇室手中,但并没有人居住,唯一的辉煌记录是皇室为了庆祝一位公主的大婚而举行的盛大假面舞会,邀请了一万六千名宾客。这位公主就是嫁给了后来法国国王路易十六的玛丽安东尼奥,她后来的命运家喻户晓。十八世纪改成了美术馆。

本来期待不高,但进去以后反而觉得很好。

前后对应着有两个楼,大的上宫和小的下宫。中间是花园,风格和美泉宫类似,只是规模小很多。也是对称的几何图形,旁边有小迷宫,树都被修建成圆形,方形,梯形或圆锥形。喷泉更多。最美的还是树的颜色,金黄翠绿与深红交织在一起,本身就有诗情画意。

我从下宫进去,相当于后门。虽说比美泉宫小,但还是相当壮观的一个大花园,里面人不多,比美泉宫更宁静秀丽,良辰美景仿佛被我独占,更对它好感加倍。

上宫里面改成了美术馆,收藏了很多十九世纪的画作,新古典主义和浪漫主义居多,印象派和现实派也不少,还有一些中世纪和现代的画作,很合我口味。最有名的当然是Klimt的《吻》。

二层的大理石大厅非常壮观,每一处都有雕饰和壁画,拱形的天花板上水晶大吊灯华美非常,身后的窗子可以俯瞰整个花园。有趣的是为了方便游人看顶上的绘画,地上摆了很多球形的沙发椅,震撼之余又多了一丝人情味。其实单说奢华程度远远不如白金汉宫,但有豪华也有简单,再加上人少,让人觉得宽松舒适很多。

看完画作穿过花园回去,斜阳懒懒的躲在云后,空中有淡淡的雾,但仍然透着蓝,空气冷脆,但光却暖,再看着红色的爬墙虎,不知怎么觉得和《故都的秋》里描绘的相仿。很多旅游手册都没有把美景宫放在维也纳必须游览的景点,可是它有大花园可以逛,有各种风格的画可看,美丽的建筑可以品味,游人也少很多,是我个人的最爱。

出了美景宫,去导游婧婧给我推荐的店吃维也纳名菜炸肉排。之前看介绍说这道菜是肉排浸上蛋液裹上面包屑煎炸而成,心想这不就是咱奶奶的拿手菜么,什么时候成了维也纳国菜了。味道还是非常不错的,点了炸小羊排,肉质嫩且没有膻味。旁边一个老奶奶独自坐在那里,是这里的熟客,行动很迟缓,侍者待她很殷勤。来接班的小伙子一进来先跟她打招呼,累了的女服务员会挨着她旁边亲昵的坐下,像跟自己家人一样撒一下娇。我的侍者说她几乎每天都来,快十六年了,下午点一道菜,喝两杯啤酒,然后慢慢地回家。之前听婧婧说奥地利这种老太太特别多,大多每天去固定的咖啡馆坐一坐,都跟侍者很熟。为什么都是老太太呢?因为女人平均寿命长呗!

吃完了也该告别维也纳了。 取了行李,楼下就是可以去机场的轻轨。再次大赞婧婧同学找房子的靠谱!

到得早了,需要等一会儿。维也纳机场设施还不错,有免费网络。顺利登机,回伦敦咯!此行十分美好,而且我一点功课都没有做,全靠地头蛇JJJ,真幸福。

金色维也纳 – day 1

10.13

我和婧婧差点儿赶不上火车的节奏还在继续。从萨尔斯堡要塞往火车站走,时间越来越紧,我们也越走越快,最终一路小跑的到了火车站。她取行李我买票,在开车前两分钟跳上了火车。跑的上气不接下气,上了车就直接瘫在椅子里。 

到了维也纳已经挺晚的,之前突然得知我们要和婧婧爸妈以及一群阿姨一起吃饭,俩人就灰头土脸的去了。结果阿姨们都打扮的亮闪闪,好惭愧。中餐馆挺靠谱,在听阿姨们讲了好多八卦的同时,我们俩埋头苦吃,再喝点小酒,都成了大红脸。

晚上乘电车回婧婧帮忙预约的公寓,大街上还是有很多人,维也纳比我想象的热闹。 公寓很靠谱,洗了个澡舒服的睡了,期待明天由导游婧婧带领的一天。 

上午去黑山咖啡馆吃早餐,有老牌资本主义国家咖啡馆的感觉。穿西装的侍者,皮质座椅,装在精致蛋托里的煮蛋,还有小爵士乐现场演奏。咖啡面包黄油果酱加葡萄柚,煮蛋真好吃。吃货的一天就此开始!

在一区老城晃荡, 经过皇宫和博物馆区。和很多国家一样,奥地利是二十世纪初才废除的帝制,作为首都的维也纳还保存有诸多王室留下的痕迹。在市中心的霍夫堡皇宫是皇室执政的主要宫殿,气势雄伟自然不必多说,但只有几处对外开放,。旁边就是博物馆区,几家博物馆比如自然史博物馆和艺术史博物馆名气不小。 歌剧院也在不远处,在门口看到了穿各种奥地利民族服装准备游行的人,不知道是什么活动。

一路东张西望走走停停他,市中心的商业区游客很多,可是星期天一家商店都不开门!一路走到了圣史蒂芬大教堂,哥特风格的大教堂,建筑在12世纪时教堂的遗迹上,又经过了几个世纪各种添砖加瓦才形成了今天的模样。二战的时候不幸因为附近的炮轰而起火,奥地利九个州人联合起来每个州负责修一部分,齐心协力成为佳话。教堂里面和和很多哥特教堂一样,十分幽暗,但巴洛克式的圣坛则沐浴在日光里。一场庞大的弥撒正进入尾声,刚才看到的那群身穿民族服装的人鱼贯而出,实在是一景。

简单的吃饭之后出发去美泉宫。此地是在维也纳旅游不容错过的一站,几乎所有旅游书上都会第一个介绍它,游客自然也多。现在雄伟的宫殿主要是由有名的女大公玛利亚特雷西在十八世纪扩建的, 自她执政以来,此前一直作为夏宫或狩猎场的美泉宫才变成了政治生活的中心,可容纳超过一千人居住。巴洛克式的建筑,里面是洛可可风。

没进去到里面,在花园里转一圈就已经累到不行。花园里一切都是几何对称的,这似乎也是维也纳的一个特点,无论是建筑还是园艺都非常讲究对称。皇宫对面是坐落在小山坡上的罗马观景台,坡上的草地上修剪得无比整齐,上面小牌子写着禁止踩踏,但高处的山坡上就有很多小朋友有创意的从上面一一滚下,十分好笑。小坡不高,但走上去还是挺累的。观景台上瞭望一下,再坐在草地上晒晒太阳,很多人带着摊子来草地上野餐。

美泉宫还出名在曾经是茜茜公主的寝宫,到处都有和她有关的纪念品。十九世纪已经有相片可以考证,她的确美的倾国倾城。和美国电影里塑造的形象相比,真实的茜茜公主似乎更有一种忧郁的气质。本身是无拘无束的巴伐利亚小公主,嫁到奥地利王室,深受民众欢迎,但却厌烦宫廷的规矩,与皇家产生裂痕,开始四处游走他乡,最终在旅途中无厘头地被无政府主义者杀害。个人觉得她跟戴安娜的经历何其相似,都以美貌出名,也是时尚偶像,但都无法融入皇室生活,悲剧收场。不同的是茜茜公主的丈夫从始至终很爱她。但话说回来,这两位王妃如此受欢迎,还是因为天生长得好看呀。

本来去玩美泉宫就准备打道回府准备去歌剧院,但在地铁上婧婧妈打电话来强烈建议我们去看多瑙河。天气的确好,小斯特劳斯他老人家把多瑙河弄得那么有名,不去看一下也不好意思说自己去过奥地利呀。河水的确蓝,但我们去的那一段河两岸都是现代的居民小区,而且它也过于平静了,脑中并不能自然的放出那首耳熟能详的华尔兹。

多瑙河那一站旁边是联合国大楼,我才知道原来JJJ同学还在那儿实习过呢。在这趟旅行中我惊觉JJJ同学上学的时候把我想去的地方都去了个遍,还在联合国这种高端的地方实习过,明明是上一个学校还住对门的我居然浑然不知,也是人家的确不爱得瑟。

回家换身衣服要赶去歌剧院,中途匆匆啃了一个卷饼。我们这几天经历了若干次无比惊险的赶路,人品到现在终于用光了,迟到了!上半场不能进,但可以坐在一个小厅里和其他跟我们一样迟到的倒霉蛋们一起看现场直播,感觉颇像小时候迟到在走廊上罚站的感觉。

没有字幕我们也听不懂,于是就在歌剧院里四处溜达,  去空无一人的咖啡厅喝咖啡吃点心玩自拍。歌剧院里富丽堂皇,和维也纳其它建筑一样非常对称,如今也算是维也纳的地标。可是据说当初设计它的建筑师却因为受不了建成时大众恶评如潮而自杀。

这个歌剧情节非常复杂,涉及父皇抢了王子的恋人,百姓和统治者的矛盾,后宫宫心计和充满基情的友谊,最后还有从天堂来抓走王子的太上皇。反正我们看着字幕也完~全~没~看~懂!回家查了半天维基百科才差不多搞明白。但是人家唱得好哇,如泣如诉,不知道唱什么呢听了也觉得怎么这么纠结呀!

看完歌剧以后就要和婧婧告别了,电车上抱一抱,超感谢她陪我又去了一遍这些她去过的地方,而且把什么都安排得很好。已经想出了好多地方下次一起去,希望都可以一一实现!

伦敦日记 – Nov 4th

“这是一个孤独的城市,因为没有人会理会你,但也因为没有人理会你,最终,你终于可以做一个百分之百的自己”

一个台湾女孩写的关于当沙发客环游欧洲的书里,关于伦敦的一段话。

说得真对。

伦敦是难以融入的城市,伦敦人有礼貌却疏远。但是它自由,而且有无穷无尽的事情可以做,无数的博物馆可以参观,无数的表演和音乐会可以去看,一波又一波有意思的活动可以参加。可是不无聊并不代表不孤独,不像上学的时候那么忙,就代表有时间停下来胡思乱想,想到心生恐惧,沮丧与绝望。

不知道是不是因为从初中就一直住校,习惯集体生活,身边风风火火的总是有人,而没有室友的生活也是工作以后才开始的。还是不习惯和自己独处,独处时总感到自己的软弱,达不到对自己的期待,成不了别人眼中应该成为的那种,冷静,理智,坚强,乐观,知道自己想要什么的人。我想我是太爱回头看,才会对未来充满恐惧。

但写书的这个原本平庸胆怯的女孩,在独自闯荡欧洲一年多以后,似乎找到了自己。我自问无法像她那样靠住陌生人的沙发游历世界(厕所卫生问题就能把我困扰死),但我想尝试,慢慢的放下一些包袱,放下恐惧,只管往前走的感觉。

Facebook COO桑德伯格近期那本著名的书里说: 假如你无所畏惧,你会做什么?

我还在想。

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