December 17, 2009
December 7, 2009
November 30, 2009
November 18, 2009
During my recent trip to Chamonix with my good friend Mary, we discovered quite possibly the most delicious fall drink I've ever had: Vin Chaud. We came across this tasty and warm treat at the town market, and it completely made our day! It's sweet, it's hearty, it's warm, and it tastes like fall perfection. I have yet to brew a batch myself, but I can't wait to try this with my friends and family back in the States.
Clementines are prevalent in the French markets at this time of year, and aside from tasting great, they also make for beautiful streetside sites. There's nothing better than the smell of a freshly peeled clementine. I love the evolution of the market fare, because everything is based on what's in season. It defines the seasons that much more as different fruits and vegetables decorate the markets at certain times of the year. Parisian markets are second to none.
During our 5 day weekend off from school, four girlfriends and I packed our bags and headed East. We stayed in Munich for 4 nights, and explored different places each day. We spent our first day in Salzburg, pictured above, which is not only Mozart's birthplace, but also home to The Sound of Music. We were the only tourists there, it seemed, and had a great day exploring the small town of Salzburg. A highlight was mounting the fortress, from which we got a great view of the whole city as well as the Alps in the background. After tiring ourselves out by walking up and down and all around, we had some hot chocolate at a café that Mozart once frequented. We ended this day with a hearty Austrian meal, and trained back to Munich for the night.
I snapped this picture of a great-looking Bavarian couple in Salzburg. I loved how they were dressed so characteristically. Don't you just want to go up and talk to them?
Here I am pictured with two friends in the town center of Munich. Munich was a traditional German town, full of German people and traditions. It was a great place to spend our nights. The people are friendly, the food is hearty, and the beer is delicious.
November 3, 2009
October 28, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 19, 2009
September 30, 2009
September 21, 2009
September 17, 2009
Tonight I had the pleasure of joining my best friend Lilia's dad, Yvon, for dinner! Lilia and I have been best friends since we were about 8 months old, thus I've known her Dad for just as long. Yvon was in Paris only for the night, so we got together for a traditional French Dinner.
September 15, 2009
Bonjour mes amis! It's been almost 2 weeks since my arrival in Paris, and what a two weeks it has been! I've moved out of the "oh my gosh everything is SO exciting and AWESOME!" phase and into the "Wow I'm really living here... it's not just a sweet vacation" phase. I've loved every minute so far, but a few moments have indeed been frustrating, sad, confused, and altogether lost. It's all part of the process, or so I've been told. I'm writing this post to insert a dose of reality and feet-on-the-ground-ness into my blogging for the semester. That said, I'd like to share a few daily occurrences that have made my time here, well, French.
September 7, 2009
September 6, 2009
September 2, 2009
Well, I’ve arrived! I had a seamless flight from Toronto to Paris, and my plane landed at 5:10am local time. Unfortunately I got little to no sleep on the plane. It was even still dark out when we landed. I got through customs just fine, and I passed the time in line trying to pick out who was French and who was not.
After passing through customs, I walked out to baggage claim and both of my bags were on the carousel right as I got there! It was perfect timing. Waiting for bags is always the most stressful part of my trips, but this time it wasn’t the waiting, it was the pulling. Before I left in Toronto I made the remark to my mom that I felt like a mule carrying all of my luggage. I had a giant travel backpack, a giant suitcase, a very heavy carry-on suitcase, and a messenger bag. All of them were filled to capacity, and they did not make for a very light load. In fact, it was about 100lbs. Ok, back to the Paris arrival. I got my bags, strapped them on, and wandered to the RER (aka suburban metro that goes in to Paris). I was basically guessing everything from where to go, which ticket to buy, and what train to get on. I got very lucky and bought my ticket, got on the train, and… AH! My luggage got stuck as I was trying to heave it from the platform to the train (the train was about 2 feet above the platform). I was already sweating so much from pulling my luggage, and I was so out of sorts. Luckily, a friendly guy on the train came to my rescue and helped push my bags onto the train. I don’t know if I could have done it without him! I said "Merci."
Then, during my 30 minute train ride into Paris, the sun rose. It was a lovely greeting, and definitely made me smile. On my departure from the train, I was having a bit more difficulty with my cumbersome baggage, and the girl who sat across from me came to my aid and helped me get my stuff from my seat to near the exit. I was so surprised as to how helpful everyone was being. I must have looked really scared or pitiful. Either way, it worked. I got of at the Chatelet-les Halles stop and maneuvered my way through the station to the Rue de Rivoli exit. It was like a maze trying to find my way out! Luckily, they had escalators the whole way. The worst part of it all was trying to get out of the platform. There are gate-like structures that open for a second and close after you assumedly go through to get out. The French, being so thin, have very skinny doorways. They were about 2 feet wide… and my giant suitcase is about 2.5 feet wide. So I got stuck in the doorway. Yup, it closed on me. I had no idea what to do or how to get out. I was wearing a giant backpack, carrying huge suitcases, and I was stuck in an automatic doorway that had shut on me. My life was ending before my eyes. Then, when a young French man entered his ticket to exit, the doors opened! He then proceded to push my luggage really hard so that it would get through, and I was very thankful. Finally I got to the last upturn towards the street, and after so many escalators… they were stairs! It was not going to be an easy task carrying all 100 pounds of my luggage up those stairs. Literally, I had 100 pounds. A semi-sketchy man was walking near me at the time, and no one else was around. He was looking at me funny, and saying a few things that I couldn’t understand. Finally, when I got to the stairs, he reached out his hand as if offering his help. Did I really want to put my luggage in the hands of a random sketchy-looking person whom I don’t know? Probably not, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and let him help me. I kept a close eye, but he kind of chuckled when we got to the top of the stairs and handed me my luggage. He said something else I couldn’t understand, and I said Merci. The French have so far been overwhelmingly helpful!
Getting out of that metro station was like being born into Paris. I walked outside, after getting very hot and sweaty while pulling my luggage, and the fresh air welcomed me quite nicely. My host family gave me perfect directions, and I walked straight to my door. Sidenote - I walked past two pet shops on the way, both of which had very cute puppies. I might just have to go play with them. So I get to the door, buzz the intercom up to my host family’s apartment, and my host mom let me in. I wandered to find the elevator, and let me just say that it’s the smallest elevator I’ve ever seen. I would say it’s 3x3. Yeah.. so me and all of my luggage crammed in to the elevator, and I had to maneuver about 3 times before the door would even shut. I really don’t think more than one person can fit in this elevator. Much less one person with 4 bags. It would have been a nightmare for anyone with claustrophobia.
My host mom greeted me at the door, and we kissed on both cheeks. She is very friendly, and immediately helped me with my bags and gave me a tour of the apartment. She showed me my room, which is complete with a bed, a desk, a dresser, a whole wall of corkboard (for me to “make it my own” said my host mom) and a view of the Eiffel Tower!!! My window looks right down to the Seine and just to the right I see the Eiffel Tower. It’s amazing, and I think I can get used to this.
I can’t believe I’m really here. I can’t believe I have a corkboard wall. I can’t believe that I got volunteer help from at least 4 Parisians. I can’t believe I can look at the Eiffel Tower whenever I want.
Right now it’s about 4am in my brain, but it’s 10am in Paris. That means it’s naptime.
August 31, 2009
It's time for the land of Rene Descartes, Victor Hugo, Coco Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Napoleon, King Louis, Claude Monet, Yves Saint Laurent, Baudelaire, and... me!
August 25, 2009
August 23, 2009
A stand in the Jade Market in Kowloon
This bird just got a bath at the Bird Market
The night view from the Peak of Hong Kong - amazing!
The Big Buddha on Lantau island