Venice is an amazing city for a multitude of reasons. The twisty, maze of streets makes you feel like you’re in some sort of fairly tale (or horror movie.) It’s easy to fall in love in Venice, and even easier to get lost. But without a doubt, you cannot leave Venice without purchasing one of their famous masks. These are for sale everywhere, hanging in the windows of shops and off the carts full of souvenirs and every other tourist traps. While these mass produced items are fun, it’s definitely worth the splurge to get a handmade mask from the best mask shop in Venice.
Cà de Sol is hidden away in an alley (like pretty much everything in Venice) and absolutely stuffed full of gorgeous masks. I’m obsessed with the one I got there. It’s actually hanging on my wall but sometimes I don it for special occasions.
The masks are all unique, handmade, and absolutely beautiful. The space itself doesn’t look super luxe, but when it comes to quality, trust me – it’s top notch. This store was opened in the 80s and employs a group of artists dedicated to creating these works of art. Just like the city in which it’s situated, Cà de Sol is perfect to get lost in, with shelves full of the intricate masks crowding the tiny shop.
Make sure sure to add this to you Venice itinerary alongside a ride down the canal, treating yourself to some mandorlato, and finding a new boyfriend.
Sitting firmly atop my travel bucket list, alongside Tomorrowland in Belgium and Carnival in Brazil is a party that I can’t attend by just purchasing a ticket: one of the Cataphile’s legendary all night raves in the Catacombs underneath Paris.
The Catacombs are a series of wide tunnels and interconnected rooms that were constructed underneath the city in 1774. The original reason for their construction was to be ossuaries (i.e., a final resting place for skeletal remains typically constructed when burial space is scarce, don’t worry I had to look it up too, thx @ Wikipedia) So basically, the Catacombs are like a graveyard except instead of burying the bodies Le Francais just stacked all the skeletons on top of each other.
While in Paris, I visited the official part of the Catacombs, and it’s super cool in an extremely creepy sort of way. Stacks of skulls line the underground like the walls of a maze and there are some rather chilling messages inscribed in French on the wall.
The Catacombs is open to the public but only a fraction of their entirety is included in the tour. The tunnels are actually must more expansive, with most of it being closed off and illegal to enter.
Enter the Catophiles, named for their obsession with breaking and entering into the Catacombs to throw huge, secret, parties and and paint gorgeous murals on the walls.
One of my brief flings in Paris let me in on this little secret, and even passed on some ~illegal~ maps of the formally undocumented Catacombs. (Which he REFUSED to let me post here for fear of legal consequences. Whatever Xavier. The French are just a little bit dramatic.) The maps of the entire underground network are not available to the public and the original founders of the Cataphiles actually STOLE a copy from French officials, which is pretty savage and says a lot about French government security.
The work it takes to make this magical event happen is significant. Breaking into the unofficial Catacombs requires wading through large amounts of water with heavy DJ equipment, evading the authorities, and lighting lanterns to dance around in tunnels lit only by firelight.
One branch of the Cataphiles have a mission beyond just having a good time: Les UX (the Urban eXperiment) work to secretly improve hidden, yet historically significant areas of Paris that are underfunded or overlooked by the government. They set up a secret, underground bar, restaurant, and movie theatre within the Catacomb tunnels. These were infiltrated by the police in 2004, following the tip of a revenge-bent ex-girlfriend of one of the group’s members. (Lol, these people are savage.) The police found a camera installed to record everyone who entered and motion sensors that triggered a recording of barking dogs to ward off trespassers.
But the authority crackdown hasn’t stopped the Cataphiles. They still secretly enter through manholes and tunnels off the metro and party all night. Every member of the group is sworn to secrecy and it’s impossible to attend unless invited.
The whole endeavour is not without the thrill of a bit of danger: cave ins are possible (although rare) and it’s easy to get lost without the proper (unofficial) guide. However, I draw the line at entering through any of the manmade tunnels only big enough for one person at a time, which is literally a scene out of The Descent. Hard pass.
This probably says something unsettling about my psyche, but I am DYING (lmaooooo no pun intended) to party within La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell) next to a bunch of skulls.
Sources: (28dayslater.co.uk: user "dweeb"), https://www.unbelievable-facts.com/2017/01/secret-underground-theater.html, http://www.brain-magazine.fr, nationalgeographic.com,http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en
This is my absolute favorite bar in Montreal, starting with the entrance, which you’d never want to enter because it looks like it’s the door to where they host fight club. But instead, it opens up to a beautiful, candlelit bar.
The. drink menu itself is pretty basic; what’s impressive is the bartender’s meticulous preparation and specialized technique. These bartender’s seriously know what’s up. Last time I was there, I saw my bartender whipping egg whites into what turned out to be my tequila sour. He explained to me that it created an incredible foam on top of the drink. The foam was actually such dope foam, I could get over the fact I was like, drinking eggs…
Big in Japan is perfect for a romantic date and for people who have a bit of disposable income. Or have my uncanny ability to have not been the one paying any of the times I went there 😉
The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit was hands down my favorite museum exhibit ever. This is in large part due to the way that Paris’s Grand Palais had put Gaultier’s work on display. After progressing past sketches and stories from Gaultier’s childhood (and this super creepy teddy bear he smeared lipstick all over), I noticed that the exhibit was designed to be a runway show. Gaultier’s exquisite and creative work was breath taking and seeing the progression of Gaultier’s designs over the course of his career was fascinating.
Creepy but still chic
Mannequins adorned with Gaultier’s creations glided around the mobile cat walk. Even more breathtaking was the incredible technology that gave many of the mannequins almost almost creepily realistic animated faces and monologues. My favorite mannequin, who looked like the model version of Ariel The Little Mermaid, donned one of Gaultier’s famous, mermaid- esque gowns. She sang a lilting song and rolled her eyes at onlookers.
One mannequin, who delivered the longest monologue, was built to resemble Gaultier himself, complete with the iconic blue and white sweater.
Gaultier’s punk phase
Surrounding the catwalk were mannequin’s sitting in the shows “front row.” Coolest part, they resemble actual people who frequent the front row during fashion week. If you can’t tell from her Vogue magazine and iconic hair, this is Grace Coddington, the creative director of American Vogue.
Kate Moss, such an absolute icon as always.
The sexual undertones in Gualtier’s work were not subtle at all & I love it.
After leaving Paris, I went to Berlin for a few days with my mom. According to both my Parisienne friend and my Mom’s Lonely Planet guide book, street art is something for which Berlin in especially known. I signed my family up for a street art walking tour and two hour workshop. Highly recommend. Some of my WASPY family members felt a little mainstream because all the guests had piercings and wore black leather and were definitely okay with things like cursing and divorce. Still dope. Berlin street art culture is nuts and definitely a group of people I want to party with.
Our tour guide told us about this crazy street art gang called the Berlin Kids, (side note: kids??? how old are these people) who do crazy stuff like train surfing and spray painting the tops of subway cars. All of their identities our secret. They even made a movie.
Game: can you find this guys penis?
Answer: Look at the pattern on his pants and how its painted so that the pants appear to bulge out in the appropriate spot.
The girl dancing was done by an artist who paints pictures of girls dancing at music festivals. He aims to capture the moment when your drugs kick in (that’s literally what my tour guy said) and you start dancing with no inhibitions.
This is my and my mom’s own “street art,” made after the tour with spray paint and stencils.
Last weekend, to celebrate the launch of Bizarre Beyond Belief Magazine’s new book, Le Sino hosted the perfect event: a gallery opening of artwork by well-known Montreal street artists, that is the genius’s who’ve transformed the plain brick walls of downtown Montreal into intricate and beautiful pieces of art.
The gallery was full of unique and gorgeous works:
The atmosphere was just what you would expect: people were rolling splifs while commenting on the aesthetics of the pieces. I met a bunch of renowned Montreal street artists, which was super cool.
My favorite piece:
I actually tried to buy this, but the gallery owned this piece. So ridiculously dope because it’s emblematic of the crazy people who can cover a train in graffiti in like three minutes flat.