Thursday, February 26, 2009

je suis desolee!!!!!

i have not been very good about updating my blog in the past couple of weeks, but currently i have very legitimate reasons...last week my friend from riding ponies when i was like 12 years old came to visit [which was fun but its difficult for me to elaborate right now because im on a french computer at the dorm and the keyboard is completely different and it is SO hard to type!!!!!] and brought with her 5 hooligans who ended up ALL STAYING IN MY ROOM. but that is another story. anyways, one of these hooligans decided it would be a good idea to accidentally spill beer all over my computer, and alas, i am now computerless because mine is at the computer doctor. its quite tragic.
however, in much more exciting news, i am leaving to visit Lauren in Cyprus this afternoon and i am SO EXCITED!!!!! i will be there for 10 days and will attempt to update my blog from there.

au revoir!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Kate left this morning, and we had a really great time, and i'm going to try to provide an overview of our activities for the week because i have been too busy being an accommodating hostess to update my blog!
THURSDAY 2/5: Kate was supposed to get to paris on wednesday, but due to an unforeseen flight cancellation did not arrive until Thursday morning. I met her at the airport (after accidentally not buying a train ticket for the airport and having to pay a 25 euro fine) and brought her back to my dorm. we went grocery shopping and got some lunch at a little cafe, and then I had to go meet with Vera, the woman i am now babysitting for, to meet/interview for the job. She loved me, obviously, and hired me on the spot and I am now in charge of taking care of her almost 2-year-old daughter Nina on Thursdays and some weekends for a few hours. The family is german, has just moved to paris from texas, and was looking for a native english speaker to watch Nina so she gets more exposure to english. Anyways, after I met with them, Kate and I went to the Latin Quarter for falafel.
FRIDAY: After French and a disasterous attempt to meet Kate at the biggest metro stop in Paris, we went to the Marais to do some shopping/eating. We ended up going to the Place des Vosges, these pretty pink house things that napoleon made all the noble people live in or something, and also went into Victor Hugo's house (the author of the phantom of the opera and les miserables), which is a confusing and not very exciting museum. We went to a canadian bar that night and drank some beer and then came home and went to bed.
SATURDAY: more walking around and eating, and then that night we went to see a band that Kate's friend from Philly is in that just happened to be playing in Paris. They were really good and we got some free drinks because we were cool and knew the band and it was très amusant.
SUNDAY: I can't for the life of me remember what we did besides eating at this incredible vegan/vegetarian restaurant (because kate is vegan)...maybe we slept in all day? i dont know. but the food, even though it was vegan, was probably the best food ive had in paris so far.
MONDAY: I had class and Kate went to visit the eiffel tower and louvre and then afterwards we went to an indian restaurant (for the second time actually, because we couldn't get our fill the first time around)
TUESDAY: I skipped my afternoon class to go visit the catacombs with Kate, which ended up being one of the coolest things i've seen thus far. Basically, it is this former mine 20 meters under the city that is completely filled with skeletons. 6 million skeletons, to be exact. It was pretty spooky, especially because it was dark and claustrophobic, but really incredible to see. The bones all date from like before the 1700s, and the catacombs have been open to the public since the 1800s. All of the bones are like intricately arranged, sometimes in patterns, and it's pretty creepy to think that someone's job was to stack 6 million dead people's bones in an organized and aesthetically pleasing fashion. It's also pretty creepy to think that people have been enjoying going 20 meters under the ground to look at all the bones for about 2 centuries, but after experiencing it, I can say that I understand the allure. Here I am with all the dead guys:

WEDNESDAY: I went to French class in the morning, but skipped my impressionism class to have some more hang out time with Kate before she left. She met me at school and we went to a cafe for lunch and then explored the Pere Lachaise cemetery a little bit, stumbling upon Jim Morrisson's grave, among others. We then went for a stroll down the Champs-Elysses and took pics by the Arc de Triomphe, finishing off the afternoon with some delicious sweet crepes. We stayed in that night and just hung out and drank wine, and I helped her get onto the train to the airport Thursday morning.
today was pretty lazy, the only real thing i had to do was babysit, which was fun and nina is adorable and i got 20 euro which will suffice for beer money this weekend, which i am excited about. i'm babysitting again on saturday as well. it's nice to be raking in some cash.
au revoir!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The whole group took a trip to Normandy last weekend, which was so awesome and fabulous and full of delicious food....
the first day we went to Bayeux, a little norman town that is most well known for this really really old tapestry...which at first did not seem like the most exciting thing in the world to me, but when i actually saw it was totally fascinated, mostly with how old and ugly it was. Apparently it was made sometime in the 1000s or 1100s and is 250 feet long and tells the story of some battle between normandy and england. Here it is in its natural habitat:
This post is apparently not going to be in chronological order, because seeing that tapestry was actually the first thing we did on the second day. 
The first thing we did on the first day was check into our quaint little hostel accommodations, which were actually quite homey and not at all reminiscent of a certain horror movie set in prague. Then we visited this 5 bajillion year old church that apparently used to house the Bayeux tapestry:
It was really beautiful and intricate yet creepy at the same time because it was covered with gargoyles and there was a crypt inside that we went into complete with coffins, etc. 
After that, we ate delicious dinner at a little norman restaurant with this delicious alcoholic fizzy cider stuff, which apparently is normandy's claim to fame. Then, we went to the American Cemetery and D-day beaches, which were really depressing. Let me show you why:

Dead people everywhere. Somewhere around 9 or 10 thousand. We also trekked down to the beaches where all these people died, and happened to come across a man in full camoflauge gear pretending to be dead on the beach which was a bit strange, but I guess he was having a profound experience, which i suppose is not difficult in a place like that. From there, we went to this place called the Pointe du Hoc, which was a huge important german base thing during ww2 that the americans totally annihilated, leaving the landscape totally mangled with huge craters caused by bombs and pieces of army bunkers that were blown to smithereens. Quite creepy, i must say. Some of the bunkers were still partially intact so we were able to go inside them and look around a bit, and I was just waiting to step on a skeleton or something like that. Luckily, there were no dead bodies.
So as i said, the first thing we did on the second day was go to that tapestry, and then we traveled via bus to Honfleur, an extremely picturesque little Norman town. Our first stop was a cider mill where we had a delicious stereotypical french lunch of paté, baguette, and cheese, and did a bit of cider-tasting. I accidentally got attacked by a kitty cat, because in my desperation to satisfy just a smidgen of my animal-homesickness, i pushed the kitty who lived at the cider mill over the edge. one minute we were cuddling, and the next he was viciously biting and scratching my arm. I have some serious battle wounds, but it was well worth the small dose of kittycat love. 
We then departed for the little downtown area of Honfleur:
 It looked, as you can see, like disney world. We climbed up this big hill and got a fantastic panoramic view of the city, which i couldnt take a picture of because my camera died. My friends took pictures which i plan on stealing, however. 
All in all, normandy was fabulous, and because i found a brochure that listed all the places to ride ponies in normandy, i might just have to go back for a second visit. 
kate my lovely nurse friend comes to visit tomorrow (she was supposed to come today but the airport is a stupid, terrible place) and i am very excited to show her how knowledgeable i am about all things parisian. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I have another important sight checked off my list of things to do, the Musee d'Orsay, which is an old train station that got converted into a museum and now holds all the 19th century artwork like monet, degas, van gough, cezanne, etc...generally not my favorite genre of art, but it was pretty cool to see. i'm taking a class in 19th century art and we will be going to this museum often, so i'm hoping that maybe learning more about impressionism and post-impressionism stuff will make me like it more. it's all very pretty but some of that stuff just makes me want to throw up for some reason....however, what is really cool and what i appreciate most about studying in paris is the fact that i get to learn about artists and artworks next to the actual, original, life-size work in a museum instead of looking at a bad reproduction projected onto a screen in a lecture hall. its a bit mind-boggling, really. even if it is art that makes me want to puke. but hopefully this will change.
(the musee d'orsay)    
  (pretty gilded ballroom inside the musee d'orsay)

In other news, the paris transportation system is on strike as of today. i'm not sure why they are striking, and what is even more confusing is that they are still operating a lot of metros and busses, but supposedly they are running less frequently or something. from what i've heard and observed first-hand today, however, is that everything is exactly the same as it usually is. it seems like a kind of inefficient way to strike, but, as the french say, c'est la vie. i guess there is some law about striking that requires the strikers to do like a little bit of work or something. 
    Anyways, this weekend we are all going to normandy, as i may have mentioned before. I'm not much of a WWII buff, so for me, this trip is particularly alluring because i will be fed for free. i love food. but i will try to learn something also, if possible.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

yesterday i had my first encounter with nasty rude french people. three friends and i went to the movies to see Slumdog Millionaire (which, by the way, was excellent and brought back oh so many fond memories of meredith viera). none of us had any cash, so we all had to pay separately with credit cards. there was a middle aged french couple in line behind us who apparently just too anxious and impatient to wait their turn, and they very loudly asked the cashier what was taking so long. he replied that our credit cards were foreign and took a bit longer to process, which disgusted and outraged these french people, leading them to demand why foreigners were allowed in the movie theatre in the first place. this verbal exchange, mind you, was carried out in french, which everyone in my group could understand. we tried to retaliate, telling the man he was mechant (mean) and saying it was a free country, etc. their very mature response was to mock our attempts at speaking their own language. needless to say, it is most definitely people like them who give the french a bad name. the cashier was sympathetic to us and apologized for the mean jerks' meanness but unfortunately was unable to punch them in the face for us as we would have liked. the french are lucky that i don't hold grudges or else they'd be in big trouble.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

   this hasn't been a terribly exciting week or weekend, but i did have a few noteworthy experiences.
   on monday night, for the inauguration, a few friends and i met up at a Canadian bar in St. Germain (my new favorite part of town, btw). It was a weird experience, because nearly everyone inside was speaking english and we were watching cnn and it just seemed like i was in america. It was definitely nice and comforting, but also made me realize just how far away from the us i really am! The french definitely love obama though, there are billboards and posters and magazines and newspapers like all over the place with his face. its actually really cool, and i feel like maybe the french dont hate us so much anymore now that obama is in town. 
   wednesday night, i went with a group of friends to a sangria bar in st.germain. a couple of us stayed out late enough to take the Noctilien home, which is the bus that carts around all the drunk people after the metro closes down. it was actually a really fun experience and there were all kinds of interesting people aboard, to say the least.
   on saturday, i finally made a visit to the eiffel tower. Here is the evidence:
We went up to the very top which was a little bit scary but an amazing view, and i'm glad i have another important parisian experience accomplished.
   Sunday began with a trip to the market, once again, because it really is the cheapest and best place to buy fruits and veggies and stuff. The man at the nut stand recognized me from last week and made fun of my pathetic attempts at french. there are also these crazy people there who sell clementines and literally shove bags at you as you walk past and shove extra clementines into your bag and shove clementines in your face for you to sample. Here he is: 
you cant see him very well, but he yelled at me angrily after i took his picture. I also got some delicious cheese and baguettes at the market (which i have already devoured).
      afterwards, molly and i went to see a couple of museum exhibits that were really cool, one at the MEP, a photography museum in the Marais, and the other by Place de la Concorde, where the guillotine used to be. on the way home, an old man came onto the metro with an accordian and played music and he was so old and cute and i nearly died so i gave him my change and he said merci beaucoup and it was sooooooooooo cute.
    tonight molly and i are making lists of the remaining sights we need to see and i'm going to try to go to bed early because i have to GET UP FOR STUPID FRENCH AT 7AM TOMORROW BLAHHHHHHHHHH
i have heard rumors of a metro strike that is going to happen in the middle of this week, so hopefully they will cancel class....but they are probably just going to make us walk like 10 hours in the wee hours of the morning to get there and i will be Very Mad.
Bon Soir!!!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

bon week-end!

as far as first weekends in paris go, i'd say this one was quite eventful, in ways both good and bad. on friday, after french in the morning, i went to one of the enormous fancy department stores in paris that takes up an entire block of the city, Printemps. i didn't end up buying anything because it was mostly extremely expensive, even with the gigantic markdowns of the annual sale that is going on in all of paris right now, but it was still fun and exiting to pretend like i was shopping. while i was gleefully cavorting around the store, however, i ended up missing an impromptu meeting of my contemporary art class that was supposed to take place that afternoon and that i had accidentally forgotten about. whoops. i had planned on being more organized and less forgetful while being here, but that didn't last very long...oh well, hopefully i won't be taken to the guillotine and beheaded right away. i think they wait until you have missed 2 or 3 classes without an excuse to do that.
     the entire program went out for a nice dinner at a restaurant in the Bastille that evening, which was quite amazing. i had duck confit avec pommes de terre and a petite salade, which was pretty much amazing. i also tried escargot, which turned out to be quite scrumptious as well. i could only tell i was eating a snail by the slightly dirt-flavored aftertaste that reminded me of earthworms. for dessert i had some kind of floating marshmallow stew concoction that was delicious. the only complaint i had about the whole affair was that we certainly were not given enough free wine. there was only enough for 2 glasses per person! it seemed a bit tacky to me, as i was hoping for a pleasant buzz at no cost to me before hitting the bars. 
    a group of us went to a few different bars in the area after the dinner, the first of which contained too many ironic moustaches for me to tolerate, and the last of which was indian-themed, and felt as though it was the exact temperature and humidity of india in july. authentic, i suppose. we went home sort of early and i went to sleep thinking that all was well until i woke up early the next morning having contracted some kind of violent stomach virus that could not possibly have been hangover-induced as i consumed approximately 4 drinks in a 6 hour time span with a copious cushioning of food. so saturday, consequently, was spent mostly in bed with intermittent trips to the w. c. for vomiting. i managed to pull myself together enough to go out with molly and sara for a little while that evening to a cute little cafe where i just drank water and ate potato chips, and went to bed early that night. 
    and then today, waking up feeling refreshed and a million times better, i went to a flea/food market down the street that literally spanned half a mile and sold all kinds of dirty junk and old fur and scary tribal looking things and silverware and portraits of old dead people and it was pretty much amazing. i think im going to have to go back a few more times before i will actually be able to sift through all the junk and find some actual treasures. it was just a bit overwhelming. the food market on the other side of the street was even better, i spent about 6 euro on apples, clementines, peppers, carrots, and nuts. there was also tons of cheese and meats (many of which were scary and still had heads and limbs attached) and fresh fish and basically everything you would ever want to eat for really cheap. i will be returning there.
unfortunately, i have forgotten to bring my camera with me this whole weekend, so i have no pictorial evidence of anything i have done, but i'm sure nobody wanted to see pictures of me dry heaving into a garbage can anyways. i promise to capture some really spectacular moments in the near future.