Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ciao for now!

So. Spain tomorrow.
Quick recap of today, which was awesome;
- quick trip to Aix for some final business
- meha packing and laundry folding spree
- pizza dinner at Evelin's with another fellow IS student; Megan
     -- was very delicious and followed up with a That 70's Show Marathon (just Evelin and I on that one)
- Getting Sara from the train station and....
By the way, secret comerad is Sara!! Lucky girl ;)
I am for sure keeping a bank on this trip too, no worries! And I will do my best to get it posted FAST(er)!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

soundtrack > movie.

Time : 11:11 pm make a wish!

Location : my room

Weather : a little blustery

I expected to be a zombie when I rose from my bed this morning, but for some reason the little amount of sleep did not phase me at all. (Not until now anyways…)

This morning I took care of all kinds of things. Namely laundry and rotating my drying sessions.

Suddenly it was noon and I had to leave in an hour. I hadn’t really put myself together yet, I needed to prepare lunch for Lou and worst of all, my homework was not done. Lunch came together in a snap, but unfortunately my homework took nearly the whole hour I had. I barely made it out the door on time and nearly choked to death (not quite) on some baguette while pounding the pavement to the bus stop. Naturally, I was early. My unfinished homework was half finished on the bus with some illegible handwriting.

Crepes Á Go-go is an underground crepe shop. Pretty cool eh? Just walk down some steps, just like walking down into a subway, in the middle of Aix by the round about, and there you have a crepe stand with over 80 kinds of crepes. I highly suggest the lemon and coconut one. Who knew lemon and coconut go together?

Class today was alright. We just can’t seem to keep a steady number going. Granted the vacation definitely has something to do with it. I’d like to say it was incredibly interesting and we learned a lot, but all we really did was some listening exercise. It was good practice, but they really do not carry over to real life. A simple recording is not the same as talking to someone in person when you have facial expressions, gestures and so much more to help you understand what you’re listening to.

Somehow we even managed to go over time so I speed walked to the bus. I was a scared of missing the bus, but my main concern was the mass amount of annoying kids that are on my bus. I had forgotten about the vacation, which was a nice surprise.

When I got back home my energy had started to falter and my productivity rate was drastically dropping. There was nothing I could do. I could not chance drinking anything caffeinated so late in the day. If I go one more sleepless night, I may not survive.

So I found the Graduate online and played that while starting to pack for my trip. I didn’t get much packing done and I definitely did not watch too much of the movie. I really didn’t like it that much. I think it is not for my time. I couldn’t relate to it, which is probably a good thing. On the other hand, it has a good sound track featuring Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, which is the original reason why I wanted to watch it.

Supper was really late, nearly at 9pm, but that was ok.

Energy levels are so low the red light is flashing, and processes are slow. Which is why it took me so long to assemble my thoughts for the blog.


Monday, February 21, 2011


From the Bank - near Frankfurt - Wednesday December 29th 2010

would you ever find this in Canada?

I slept really well that night. So well I barely heard my roomies return (sometime after 2am I think) and I never heard them leave, at least before 8:30am.

Marcel picked my upand we went for a drive on the autobahn. It was pretty fun. But you really don’t notice that you’re going fast. I had to keep checking the speedometer (secretly haha). I think it all has to do with relativity. If everyone else is going (for example) 170 kph too, then you all might as well be going 100 kph and just get there later, and probably save a small fortune on gas.
all the way to frankfurt...

If I understood correctly, there is some kind of law that you have to drive in the farthest right lane as possible, unless you’re ripping it up at 210 kph and the others are only going 150 kph then you can drive in more left lanes, but not if you’re the only vehicle around. There is also some weird law on tailgating or driving side by side. It was weird, like I said, and didn’t make much sense.
looking down from the castle

there I am with the Castle..
While I’m on the topic of driving, I will have you know that in Europe, the traffic lights are not on the opposite side of the intersection; they are on your side and you pull right up to them. That totally throws me off, mainly as a passenger when my mind is not fully on the road.
i wish that light was light up

For those of you who read this and happen to have a “special” connection to the Radisson, check out this crazy round Radisson I spied.

Speaking of crazy buildings, I am always amazed at the stuff these Germans are building. It’s like they are constantly on the cutting edge, and also averaging five years behind schedule and a couple of million, if not billion, over budget. Glass making waves and weird windowed shoots, they really out do North Americans. Granted we do like to get our buildings up so we can move on.
where we went sledding
acorss on the hill is the castle poking out

The first stop of the day was some kind of old castle in a small town. It was way up on a ill and even though it was super overcast, you could see some significant tower of the Frankfurt skyline. Marcel said this would be a very good place to be on New Year’s Eve. A slightly secluded place with enough room for all of your mates and an excellent view of all of the fireworks from there right to downtown Frankfurt. Now I wish I was staying for New Years… After a couple of minutes of taking it in, we slid back down to the car on the sleds we lugged up.

Marcel had this really old wooden sled that was super tippy and incredibly fast (if you could keep it going straight without falling off). I guess it was a very traditional German sled. So traditional that it belonged to his parents.

I guess I should let you know that we went sledding on a hill by the nearby zoo. It was tons of fun! Probably the only time I’ll get to play in the snow this winter. I loved it SO MUCH!!

On a quick stop at a grocery store, I came across an amazing fruit. It was all pokey and orange on the outside while being green on the inside. I should have bought a half. Instead I took a free sample of chocolate that was disgusting. Bad move on my part.
Shayla & Marcel

I did not know that Marcel really likes horses. You probably did not either. Our last stop of the morning/afternoon was the stable. Here I met Marcel’s horse and some other riders. The stable was really nice, but probably not in the way you are thinking. It wasn’t all luxurious, “competitive” and full of ribbons. This stable was like a local community stable where people who genuinely like to ride and care for horses can come. I don’t actually know if the horse is actually Marcel’s, or his family’s, or even the stable owner’s. However, the horse loved him, sometimes. Out on our 1.5-2 hour walk with it, things got a little interesting. Shayla, the horse, is kind of difficult to handle, which is why none of the girls at the stable want her or prefer otherwise. Despite a moody horse, the walk/run was lovely. The weather was a little crisp and the frosted area was a real winter-wonderland.
Shayla needed to blow off some steam

We headed back to Marcel’s and I had the most amazing meatballs of my life for out really late lunch. So late that it was only two hours later when we had supper with his mom. Turns out Germans eat a lot earlier than the French, which is fine by me.
alot of steam..

Marcel and I recuperated from our double whammy of meals and waited for some of his friends to come by for a bit. It was nice, but I’m finding that now very many Germans know a lot of English. It was still fun. Nice to meet people.

If you know a tad about German cities, you may have noticed that there are ‘Bad’ places. Example: Hamburg, Bad Hamburg, Soden, Bad Soden. Surely they can not be outright bad places! Quite the opposite. These places are in fact very good. A while ago (time undefined) places that had really good water (like hot springs, mineral springs, etc.) got the prefix of ‘Bad’ to their names. Bad Soden’s mineral pool is now looking pretty good isn’t it?


FROM THE BANK - Frankfurt - Tuesday December 28th 2010

somewhere between Berlin and Frankfurt
Unable to find my beloved Merino wool socks, but hoping they were in the bottom of my bag, I left bright and early for Frankfurt.

Turned out my train was an hour late to leave, and had numerous unplanned stops, but I finally got to my hostel at around 3pm. I still was not able to check into a room until after 4pm.
i was missing snow so much!!

To kill time, I promptly contacted Marcel and we made a plan for the evening, kind of. The plan was “Ok, come meet me at the hostel now and we’ll go from there.”

Unsurprisingly it was an excellent plan.

First thing first, I was hungry. I desperately needed a snack, so I ventured outside into Frankfurt. When I first arrived, in the daylight, my area seemed normal enough; just a busy downtown. It was now night. Not overly dark though, no, the many red and blue fluorescent lights that seem to be popular for the businesses of many varieties (from “cocktail-beer-bar”s to casinos, and whatever you want to shake in between) gave off a more than decent red glow. My hostel was right in the middle of the Red Light District of Frankfurt.
theres a cross on top of that hill

Frankfurt is tall. The meaning of skyscraper is quite literal here. Reaching up to the sky, there are towering office buildings everywhere. Being night time, they were all wonderfully light up. It was like a cliché scene of someone’s first time in the Big Apple or should I say Big Frankfurter? Naw, doesn’t have the same ring to it.

You’d think that once you’ve seen one Red Light area, you’ve seen them all. Amsterdam and Frankfurt are complete opposites. In Amsterdam that majority of the people out and about are fellow tourists and probably just as (secretly) scaredof you as you are of them. In Frankfurt, these are real people. Down for business people.
you have to admit, there is skill here

So I found a grocery store lickity split, bought my cookies and speed-walk/sprinted (without losing a cookie) to my hostel and quite literally into the arms of Marcel, who found my little ordeal amusing.

We headed to the less Red part of downtown. We walked through Rothschild park and by the Opera House to a very bustling part of town. There was a street just for eating. As in it had solely restaurants. And of course an area that had more than enough sops for clothing and other knickknacks. Inside a huge and fairly recently redone mall, we found a grocery store where Marcel found a frankfurter for me. It was ok. Pretty much just a skinny wiener. I would have liked a spot of mustard on it.

After an insanely good pasta supper where they make your personal dish right infront of you, we went to a nice night café called Shooting Star. It had a very nice ambiance. Not very busy, but hey, it was a Tuesday. The owner had a wall with photos of all his regulars. I that so, cool. Someday my photo will be on a wall… somewhere other than at my house.

I for sure spotted the Commercebank tower and the Main Tower, as well as some other tower that Marcel told me that everyone says looks like a pen. Sadly, my camera was not in the depths of my purse as I had thought, but in the depths of my backpack… at the hostel… (I might throw in some from tomorrow if I have ‘too many’).

Also on the topic of the City, the weather is really nice. That night it went up from -1C to 2C just while we had our pasta. There was a bit of snow, but as you can imagine not much. Oddly enough, it was not too slushy. A fairly agreeable city if I do say so myself. It may have something to do with how it has a moderately continental climate.

Still having a good chunk of the evening left, we headed onto the S-Bahn to go to Marcel’s. He doesn’t actually live in Frankfurt, but in a town close enough that about 20 minutes from the city center and a couple of towns later we were there. A nice town, but it was dark so I don’t have much to report.

His mom was really nice. The same with what I saw of his brother. We just hung around, catching up (it had been a good two and a half years) while watching How I Met Your Mother.

A couple of hours later I snuck into my hostel room, being as quiet as I could be as to not wake up whomever was there. Turns out the very friendly and just as crazy Mexicans I was to be rooming with were not back. Yet.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

or we could take the Mercedes...

Time : 11:22 am

Location : my room

Weather : post-rain chill

Yes, so yesterday was so excellent that by the end of the day I was simply too tired to make an entry, so, here goes it.

"oh look! Phesants! They're delicious!"
 Even though it was Saturday, I woke up relatively early to get out there on the bike. About half way through my ride, and while going up a not very big hill, I realized that this was just too hard. Not in the way that I could not do it, but that there was something wrong. Sure enough, after a quick inspection, I found the tires to be desperately needing air. I hopped back on and headed home. I still need to find out what they do about flat tires in this house.

Once I was showered and all cleaned up, I headed over to Evelin’s for our crepe brunch. I have no idea how she did it, but she managed to actually make them paper thin. Accompanied with a little bit of Maple Joe and some kiwi-banana-smoothies made by yours truly, we had a delicious meal.
euro trees
so good to be in a forest

Following, I helped Evelin with reading one of her French books. This is also good practice for me. I get to work on my explanation skills, my comprehension skills, but also work on my expanding vocabulary skills.
same trees

Being bombarded by sunbeams all this time, we decided to go out for a walk around town. It didn’t take very long for us to decide to leave this town and go out on a real hike somewhere.

Evelin was driving and I was the navigator aka directions reader. Somewhere in the directions, the exit we were supposed to take on a round point was incorrect and we ended up wandering a grocery store asking friendly and trusting looking couples how to get to our destination. And by ‘we’, I mean I did the talking and attempted comprehension while Evelin browsed haha. It’s odd, I can understand people perfectly, except when they are giving me directions. Maybe it’s the pressure and my brain just shuts down, but al comprehension skills go out the window.
no idea where we were...

up on the roof top
We eventually drove by a clearing with a lot of abandoned cars that were assembled in the way people park when they’re at the beach or at a park. Trust me, there is a definitive style as to how people park (normally under trees). Pulling a U-y, we returned and found somewhere to hike. Sure, it wasn’t our planned destination, but it was good enough. We came across a shed of sorts (a very French looking shed, they’re everywhere here) in an olive garden. Evelin joked about climbing up on it to sunbath. She still must not know not to make jokes like that unless she wants a follow through. Needless to say, we spent some time, no idea how much, hanging out on the roof of this thing, cracking pistachios and taking in the rays.

It was an absolutely lovely area. The olive garden seemed to go on forever, and the soil was red. Lovely contrast going on and the sky was clear as could be.
olive garden

Unfortunately we could not stay all day in this paradise by Tholonet. I had to get back to meet Anna in Aix.

We met in front of the tourism office. There was an incredible amount of people in Aix that day. You would think that there was some kind of festival going on something, but no. Just nice weather for once.
gorgeous day

We wandered up and down the streets, chatting about this and that. The afternoon faded away and we grabbed something to eat. When we asked if they had a washroom (it was just a small place), we were handed a key and instructed to a side door. Finally figuring out how to get in, a dark hall way with stairs leading up greeted us. It was like the beginning of a slasher flick. It was creepy.
Anna and I popped into the Musee de Vieil Aix. We thought we were going to enter a museum all about the history of the city with artefacts and museum stuff. I was fairly disappointed. All there they had to show were walls of information and photos on the preservation of the old city in regards to shop fronts, millwork (doors, shutters, decorative aspects) and terraces.

do our fields get this green?

One interesting point : I’m sure you’ve noticed the red tiles on all the roofs. Provence and Southern France is well known for all of the red roofs, probably because Cezanne painted them quite often. In Aix they have been protected as a historical monument meaning you can not alter your roof. Say you wanted to enlarge your roof top terrace, or put some kind of roof over it, you couldn’t. Bizarre and inconvenient isn’t it?

Even later in the day, I once again returned to Evelin’s for a PJ party. After the game at Institute on Friday, she insisted we watch Notting Hill (Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant). It was ok, kind of long and I was really tired. Half way through we took an intermission to go find a pizza place in Luynes. I knew we would be unsuccessful, but Evelin really wanted pizza I guess. Sure enough, nothing was open.
blue & green

As you can imagine, I was dead tied by the time I made it home last night. An excellent day if I do say so myself.

11:48 am

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Time : 12:07pm

Location : lounged in my room

Weather : days like today make me wonder how the last three are possible

Today was a very positive day.

On that note, I will get the only negative thing out of the way: due to an unclosed faucet last night and thus there was no hot water. I managed.

Alex asked me if I would help her translate her resume, so we did just that after I got back k from the bank. Believe it or not, but there are a couple of difference between French resumes and the way we were taught in school. For one, it is customary to add a photo of yourself. I found this odd but also practical. For one, you will be able to easily identify this potential employee, but also, how necessary is that prior to the interview? Another thing, is that your age is included. The two things we were taught not to do…

Class was a little larger today, but our numbers seem to be dwindling lately. I did not even realize until I got there, but I had completely forgotten to do my homework. Thankfully it was really simple and I got it done as we went along.

Go figure that we also worked on writing resumes. Theme of the day much? Turns out when employers are looking for help, sometimes, in France, they put a “ (H) ” or a “ (F) ” beside the job title to indicate if they would prefer a man or a woman. Lisa and I found that so astonishing on how openly discriminative that is. Our next comments were both along the lines of how much money people would be making off the ads just by suing them.

Half way home I remembered that I forgot to return my movie to the school, not that there is a return date, but I wanted my deposit money back. I also remembered that some how I forgot to iron Lou’s clothes this morning. So, afterschool, while Lou had her snack, I ironed. Took me next to no time. I think I am getting better at it.

For some reason Lou decided that she wanted crepes. So we had crepes. Mini crepes. They are so good, but believe it or not, I have really been craving waffles lately. Crepes just are not doing it. I’m afraid the novelty of crepes is wearing off, unless they’re from the Crepe Factory.

Evelin invited me to Institute, which is the student group meeting at her church. The lesson part was ok, again, I was kind of able to follow, and did some translation for Evelin. Sometimes when I’d get really into translating, I’d look over and see her laughing because not only did she have me in one ear, but also the guy on the other side translating for her too! Lucky her! Haha.

The people there were really friendly and oddly enough some people actually knew where Saskatchewan is! Not Saskatoon though, that’s still stretching it. One guy even had a joke about it, ‘coz everyone makes SK Jokes, ya know? : Saskatchewan, hard to say but easy to draw. Not bad, not bad.

After the lesson there was food (excellent lasagne) and then some games. They played movie trailers, intros to songs and audio clips from animated movies, and we had to identify them. We were in teams, and between Evelin, Arnaud (who is from Geneva) and myself, we got an overall score of 26/50. Oh, and it was all themed on Valentine’s Day.

It went oddly late but really this late. All the movie clips got me in the mood to watch a movie, so… I am. Gotta love how convenient the internet is. Although the multitasking does make it hard for me to fully concentrate on formulating my sentences. I should get back to my movie.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

quite progressed.

Time : 9:36pm

Location : sittin on the couch

Weather : SO HUMID. I’m cold.

Today was wet. Still. Honestly, this humidity is freezing me right down to my phalanges. I’m layered to the nines.

This morning I was super energetic even though I did not sleep until late in the night. I got right into my day.

I started with my homework that I neglected yesterday. I researched Canadians and recycling for a solid hour, gathering statistics only to look at one of the hand outs and remember what I was actually supposed to be doing. I was kind of on the right track; gathering stats and putting them into a context using articulators. What I was actually supposed to be doing was looking at a graph (I chose one on the percentage of Canadians that are physically active in their leisure time based on age and gender) and then creating a report on it using articulators for expressing graphs. Trust me, it sounds confusing, maybe because I did a bad job at describing it, but I’ve really got the hang of it, when I write. Speaking, I’m still working on it. I did a stellar job on my homework.

I spent the remainder of my time gathering more and more information for this trip. I think I read too many reviews by people on the places that I’m planning on going. But hey, I have to make sure that these places are worth my precious time.

I found out my lovely little leather-moccasin-like flats leak water from the soles up. I was so disappointed, but really, what else should I have expected?

Even though it was Thursday, I did not end up walking right into the weekly market in Aix. I guess nobody felt like making money in the rain. If I had a booth, I’d be making so much money that I would make it rain.

And it also turned out that the Post Office was closed. I tell you, these French people, so unreliable with their business hours.

Class today was bigger; there were five of us. We went over our work with articulators, as per usual. I did a nice little mini presentation of my homework seeing as I was the only one who had done it. I got a compliment on how well I write in French. I was pleased. The remainder of the class was spent on Oona’s presentation on violence in schools. Of course everyone had an opinion and recounted stories from where they’re from. For some reason we spent a lot of time discussing the amount of guns there are in the U.S.A.

After school Lou, Alex and I spent tons of time putting numerous puzzles together. I think maybe if we would have been given enough time, and some of us patience, we might have completed the 500 piece one. I was on a roll and then Hop! Back in the box…

Remember my first experience with beets here? How they look like bloody flesh? Or something along those lines… Well, today I chopped some up and threw them in with the lemon rice. Excellent decision. Although apparently eating them cooked is not very popular. Oh well, everyone’s gotta get used to new things, not just me.

Also, on the topic of my French improving; Alex said that I am speaking quite a bit faster than when I first arrived and she is also impressed at my amount of vocabulary, mainly how I tend not to use the same words over and over as well as words that are transparent from English to French. This made me really happy because I really feel like my oral has not been progressing as much as I would like. Although I do work on it.

9:51 pm

4th times the charm.

Time : 11:47 pm

Location : my Room

Weather : rainy, not rainy, rainy, make up your mind!

The weather here can not make up it’s mind! Needless to say the rain was on and off all day long.

Today I figured out a superior route to gymnastics and to Carrefour. I felt rather proud of myself, being able to figure out the road ways like that. You may think that after over three months of being here I would have the roads of the area down pat, but well, not exactly. If you look at the grid of Saskatoon, it literally is a grid. Very square and easy to navigate. France however, is pure chaos. One big knot of roads.

Another plus of the day: either tomorrow or Friday will be the final day of work on the bathroom. Who is pumped? I am. I think everyone else is just tired of it. I’m looking forward to having a real shower for once.

Yes, today was Wednesday. (I think I always note when it is Wednesday…) Lou went to play at her friend’s place for the afternoon which left me free to do what ever.

I took advantage of this time to head to the train station to get some information on how I plan on getting to Spain. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, they were next to no help at all and I actually left wondering how on Earth this trip is going to be possible. Which is kind of odd, because if I remember correctly, when I went there before to get help on my Germany trip, I believe I left with the same sentiments…

Keeping the trend of old emotions and happenings, as soon as I got home and continued to research my travel, I found a spectacular solution to my otherwise devastating problem. Now I must ask, if you work in a train station, why can you never fully serve someone? When I worked in a grocery store I knew where all the items were, and if I didn’t, I knew someone who did. Like honestly, these people have a nifty computer program to do their work for them.

So yes, as you can imagine, I spent the better part of the afternoon planning out this trip. I have to admit it is going a lot smoother than the last one because this time I actually know, or have a better idea of what I am doing. It is going to be SO GREAT!

I bet you all look forward to hearing about it.

In the evening, not long after Lou and I returned, Alex returned as well. She is on holidays now and has come home for a couple days. She’s friendly, I like it when she is here.

I tried another new-ish idea for supper today. Fairly simple, but an idea none the less. Baked potatoes done kind of like devilled eggs. Once well baked, I scooped out as much potato as possible without breaking the skin, and proceeded to make mashed potatoes out of it. Then I return the now mashed potatoes (made with love, and cream and butter for a little flavour) into the empty shells and seasoned with paprika. Everyone seemed to like it. I was pleased.

I got another letter in the mail today. I love getting mail. Personally, I think I get the best mail in the house. So yes, my day was made even better.

I was going to watch a movie this evening, but my movie mood faded, so I did a little catching up on my Glee. Which is why this entry is so late… That and every time I tried to write, total of three times prior to this, I could not. My fountain of words was dry. One time I even started with: I did absolutely nothing today.

Thank goodness I remained patient and watched some Glee. Haha


12:02 am

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Time : 12:05 am

Location : my room

Weather : so warm!!

Today was damp. The humidity had me chilled to the bone.

I did the same old same old before class today. One of the only things that I can think of being noted for today is the fact that I was so cold that while I was walking to the bus stop, I realized that I was wearing the same amount of clothes here, in 10C as I had been in Berlin when it was -15C. Some things just don’t make sense.

Evelin had to buy a stamp today. Just one stamp. No big deal. So we headed to the post office in Aix to buy A stamp. We waited around for about six or seven minutes for someone to return to the cash register/checkout area (yes, this was a fairly large post office). Nobody came. Eventually we decided to leave, very unimpressed with how this post office was operating at the time. There were more people tending the Post Office Banking services than there were for the actual post office. That’s when some machines by the exit caught our eyes.

Can you imagine this: a coin operated machine where you can buy a pack of stamps, a single stamp (for anywhere in the world!!) and where you can weigh and pay the postage for a package! It’s like the ultimate of pop machines, but for stamps!
pop machine of a stamp seller

I was pretty impressed once we figured out how to use it, which may or may not have taken a while.

I also found out that I do not HAVE to buy a prepaid box to send my what nots away to other countries. Oh those ladies at the post office here, not telling me whats what…

Class was unusually small today. There were three of us, plus Christine, our present teacher. We really did not do much. Listened to a recorded speech to work on our listening skills. Unfortunately something about the rain and lack of people in class kind of killed any will I had to be able to comprehend what I was listening to at all. Thankfully I don’t think I was alone on that one.

I have to say I think I ended up doing more work at the school that Lou has set up for in the after school hours. I had numerous work sheets to fill out and studied a lot of geography, math and verb conjugations. Apparently I am a B- student, but my geography knowledge is impeccable. I’m not surprised on the latter.

I tried out a new recipe for supper tonight. Nothing fancy, as always, but it was a green bean casserole with a heavy cream and sour cream mix topping and bread crumbs. Marie-Anne simply loved it. I was so surprised, but content as well. It was ok. I think she liked eating sour cream not as a dessert for once. Funny how little things like sour cream can be so different from here to there.
found some real Canadian gold
while at Evelin's

After supper I went over to Evelins just to hang out. I really did not get back this late, I just took a while to getting into my writing mode. Trust me, if I had written right away, you would have gotten a very poorly written entry, with little to no zest. Not that this one has much.


Photos get put in tomorrow.

12:20 am

Monday, February 14, 2011

red rain.

Time : 11:07pm

Location : my lair

Weather : post-rain

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

We (or at least I) started off fairly festive by giving Lou a gorgeous hand crafted Valentine. I hope she liked it.

I really did want to get out for a bike ride but the rain kind of deterred me. For the whole day.

On the plus side but un-sunny side, I managed to get some major planning milestones done on my upcoming trip. Hostels, activities, transport, you name it, I am getting it done.

Keeping the festiveness above zero, I made some Valentine’s Day cookies. Nothing special, just regular sables with some cinnamon and sprinkles. They are mighty delicious and I noticed that people have been eating them. Mission accomplished.

We finally got the door back on the toilet room today. By we, I mean the reno guy, Patrick, finally came back to put it on. I swear this bathroom is not going to be done by the time I am gone.

I’m pretty sure that the only half and hour that it did not rain today was when I went out for a quick walk. I really like the rain, I do. I like the way it makes everything smell so fresh and how plants are greener the next day. I especially like having to use my windshield wipers (or when I’m driving fast enough I don’t have to anymore). But most of all, I love the sound of rain falling on my rain jacket hood. There is something very relaxing about that sound. It made me wish it had been pouring buckets when I went for my walk instead of the rest of the day.

I am predicting a wall of fog tomorrow morning. I will document the out come of my predictions.

I guess you’re wondering where I went for my walk. No where special today, I didn’t have time for some place special, just for down town. I had a couple stops, and finally I got to the computer place. I explained to the guy that I was having the same problem as before and it is completely inevitable that I have it time and time again, so I got him to explain to me what I have to do. I now have the remedy for this computer problem in my mind and only a couple clicks away.

Even though I was more or less done writing out my homework, when Lou got home I asked her if she wanted to look it over for mistakes. I think she rather enjoyed that, even if she didn’t find any (oh yeah!), because she went on to make up a game called School. Original isn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I actually had a French dictation or had to answer random French questions. Did you know there are bills in 200 euro denominations? Now you do.

Evelin and I went to a movie this evening, just to get out of our houses. It was Hereafter. You all probably have heard of it. It was playing in English at the Renoir. I kind of liked it, the ending was not really to my original liking though. After we had discussed the movie all the way home, so more or less 20 minutes, I think I may have swayed to liking it more.

Then I came home and here I am.

Since my computer is fixed, I can now put my pictures up!! Check back in the entries to see some photos folks!


Sunday, February 13, 2011


Time : 8:56pm

Location : the Chair

Weather : it was so nice out today.. so nice.. it is Spring.

Today I got my fair share of the outside. (Once I got last night’s entry up)

I started off with attempting to going for a run. It went fairly well, as in it took ten minutes for my shin splints to kick in. Which was disappointing, I’ve been waiting for two weeks to be able to run again. So I finally pulled out the bike and went for an extended ride. The ride was great, the bike was weird. When I finally get this computer problem fixed, I’ll put the photo of it up. My words can not create it’s image for you. That and I lack the bike vocabulary necessary. All I can say on the matter is it had a really squishy seat, felt like it had an incredible amount of shocks and only had 6 gears.
What Are You!!

I then took my time getting myself together for the day and slightly cleaning my room.

Eventually I set off for Narnia. I packed myself a wonderful lunch and had my binocs with me. I was perfectly set.

On my way I thought about something. I thought about the time you pass getting somewhere, for example: walking somewhere, sitting on a train, switching planes and waiting in airports. I find as if it is almost like for X amount of time, your life is kind of on hold (ok, this can be argued on so many points, but just go with me) or paused. You are between two points and are waiting to get somewhere. Until you arrive, you do things like listen to music, look out the window or Sudoku puzzles. Almost as if you are passing through a void of sorts. Sure you’re doing things, you’re living, but its not like you are Really doing Something. Not until you arrive, then you have to do Something.
med. mustard
tuna with dijon mustard
comte cheese
more toast.
this is magnificent.

I think this was me reflecting on taking the train from city to city this winter in Germany. Those hours between destinations were fine, really easy because I really didn’t have to think too much about what to do. I could just sit. But once we arrived, and I got off the train, every time it was like “Ok, Now Where Am I Going? What Am I Doing?”.

My lunch was absolutely delicious, I savoured every bite. For the record, in Narnia, 3 o’clock is not the hot time for trains, only three went by right around the hour.

with carrots.

While I was sitting there I noticed some moss growing on the rocks. For a moment, I thought of how marvellous moss is. It lives everywhere, all year long. It even remains green and soft during the winter months (granted this isn’t much of a winter here). I was very impressed by moss and all it can endure, for a moment, then I returned to my sandwich.

I took the short way home because there were lots of things I knew I had to do.

I did an extreme organization of my room. I was like a wild frenzy where I had to put everything away before I could get down to business.

decked out for Narnia

For those of you who are interested, I now have the entry about Monaco up. It took me longer than expect. Both to get it up and to write it, but I believe I did it justice.

Along with that, I got my crafting all finished up, finishing touches and everything.
lunch break in Narnia

We had quiche for supper. Not that you really like hearing what I eat for every single meal, but I really like Quiche-Lorraine. Mushroom quiche, not so much. Ha ha .

Fingers crossed for good computer luck tomorrow!


even the rain was classy.

One day in Monaco… Saturday January 29th 2011

A couple weeks late, but here’s the bit on Monaco.

The tour started in Aix where we all met in front of the tourist information center and got on the busses at 8:30am. I took the bus there from Luynes and had The Slowest Driver! I got there at 8:35, thankfully not the last one.
First view of Monaco

I spent the next three hours chatting and getting to know Anna. She’s in my French class and is from Russia. Oddly enough, she doesn’t speak English, so we had to talk to French, which was more than fine with me! On the way we passed through many towns, but some of the more notable ones were Cannes and Nice. I had no idea how close they were.

Probably looking more onto
Beausoleil than Monaco

An interesting thing I noticed, was that to me, this was ‘just a three hour drive’, like driving to Regina, but to others, this was ‘a three hour drive’. Maybe I’ve just become immune to sitting for extended periods of time and looking out the window has grown on me, but these fellow tourists were packing for a trip. Eye/night masks, books galore, portable DVD players, you name it. Wait a second… This is starting to sound like my own family going somewhere…

Building Up

We arrived in Monaco just after 11:00am. Our guide, George, made a comment about how he hoped we all brought our passports. I had mine, but wondered why we needed them. That’s when I realized that Monaco is it’s own country but I’m pretty sure I knew that already. Turns out, we did not need our passports. I was kind of disappointed, I wanted mine to get stamped again.

The Cathedral

With a population of just over thirty thousand, Monaco is about the size of Lakeview to Wildwood Golf Course, but a lot thinner. As you can imagine, the population density here is absolutely insane. It is easily the country with the densest population in the world, and not to mention, the 2nd smallest country too (Vatican being the smallest). Monaco’s space is limited, very limited, so they build up. Since new space is next to non-existent, land reclamation is in order. Around 30% of Monaco has been built out into the Mediterranean Sea. With buildings towering over you and the adjacent streets ten feet higher than the one you’re on, navigating is difficult. The whole city feels like a maze.

Prince's Palace
also under construction...

The first area we went to was Monaco-Ville. It is the oldest part of the city and was built out on a broad, rock peninsula. Here we found the Prince’s Palace. We were lucky enough to catch the Changing of the Guard at 11:55am. That was when my camera died.
Just above the head to the left of the first tent
is the green roof of the Grand Casino

Still in Monaco-Ville, we checked out the Cathedral and found it to be closed for interior work. Not having many options, we went to the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium. With only an hour, we only made it through the aquarium, which was incredible. There were all kinds of fish, small sharks, anemones, you name it. The presentation was amazing. Sadly we did not make it to the museum part where I believe are all kinds of old boats that one of the old kings or princes used to collect all the samples. Whoever it was had collected many first specimens of sea life.

building on the right (in the cliff)
is the Aquarium
The next stop was Monte-Carlo.

For you Bond, James Bond fans, yes we did take a peek at the Grand Casino. There was not much to see, as you can imagine, security was fairly tight and I couldn’t even take a photo of the inside (if my camera was working). Still in the Place du Casino was l’Hôtel de Paris Monaco; the definition of luxurious hotels that strive to excel in hospitality. I also walked in to see what I could see, and was instantly greeted by a bell hop who asked me what I needed. I explained that I just wanted to look around and he said that this is all there is to see. That was when I realized that I wasn’t seeing anything but canvas (beautifully decorated canvas at that) covering areas of construction work. Just my luck eh.
intense sky.

Regardless of the unrelenting rain, we walked around Monte-Carlo for an hour and a half. The whole city just wreaked of class. Not a leaf was out of place nor a blade of grass too long. Everything was picture perfect, even in the rain. Not to mention the streets lined with shop and shop of designer fashion’s that just don’t make sense to me. 300 euro for a belt? Unfathomable. To name a few, that I recognized: Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Hermes, Armani and Chanel. Oh, and let’s not forget the cars. I have absolutely no eye for car makes or models, but I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Mercedes Benz in my life and despite the rain, they were all spotless.


On the way back, we stopped at the Fragonard Perfumery. We went on a tour of the factory where they make perfume and soaps. Someone who makes perfume, in English, is called a Perfumer, but in French, they are called a ‘Nez’, which translates into Nose, which I find rather fitting. Between education and real training, it takes ten years for people to become Noses. They told us that the only “nose schools” are in France, (which I didn’t believe) and that there are only 100 Noses in the world (undecided on that one). If you are a Nose, you can only Smell for three hours a day so that your scent sensors (I’m getting writer’s block here, haha) do not become saturated and prolong your sensitivity. Along with being able to distinguish over 200 scents, you have to be creative. I guess this cuts me out; I could not identify the scent of Lemon.
Their commands were
en francais..
and I understood..
which I found odd..

Ever wonder what the difference between Eau de toilette and perfume is? Chances are, you haven’t ever put perfume on. Technically, it is the percentage of perfume concentrates (oils) that are mixed with alcohol. Perfume has a 15-40% concentration of oils and is the purest scented product. It is also the most expensive, but lasts the longest. With a percent of 7-15 of oils, Eau de parfum is apparently the most common, even if I’ve never heard of it. Lastly, we have Eau de toilette, which I’m sure everyone has heard of. It has 1-6% of oils and has a very light scent that does not linger long, ideal for those of you who love to douse yourself in scent before leaving the house.
They kept coming!

Lucky us, everyone got a little sample of some Eau de toilette. I love tours.
Last photo of the trip...

On the way back, I heard a very familiar kind of French being spoken from behind me. I turned around and asked the guy if he happened to be from Canada. Sure enough, this guy was from Montreal and spoke extreme Quebecoise. It was refreshing.

Hope you enjoy my few photos. Hopefully I can get Anna’s soon.

just as i said.

Time : 9:45am

Location : my room

Weather : sounds gorgeous outside

why we need winter.

I slept a little longer than I expected to this morning, but hey, it was Saturday and I was up late last night too. I was just about out the door to go on a run, the first one in I don’t know how long, when the phone rang. It was Evelin. She wanted to know if I wanted to come on an afternoon hike and picnic on the Mont. Sainte-Victoire. You know I did, so instead of going out for a run, or maybe a jog, still unsure of how my legs are doing, I gathered up some food for the picnic.
it was nice

An hour later we were on the road. But not to Mont. Sainte-Victoire. A good hike there is 4.5 hours (according to the sites). Not knowing whether that was the way out and back, we just would not have time to do it justice. Not today. So I suggested we go to a nice little town by the Sea, not far from Marseille, where we can walk and hear the waves.
can you believe they grew like that?

Off we headed to Niolon.

The last time I was there was November 11th 2010 with Marie-Anne, Lou and Alissa. This time we went on the same path, but we went a little farther. There were lots of rocks we had to climb up and trees we had to crawl under. Not overly challenging but some parts of it really made me miss wall climbing. I’m going to have to find some place where I can go do that sometime…
au bord de la mer

We stopped for a delicious lunch of homemade burritos, emmantale sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, veggies and fruits, and of course, peppermint tea. We sat in a bowl like area where we were sheltered from the light wind and could see down right to the Sea.

After lunch we headed back and did a quick tour of Niolon. I came across the same cat that I saw sitting in the cat hour last time. We decided it was the totem animal of the village.
happy hiker!

Once I returned home and cleaned myself up a bit, I got to doing some light crafting for Valentine’s Day which is coming up. Something that is really different from French elementary schools and North American schools is the amount of crafting. From preschool all the way to grade eight, we make countless crafts for every occasion imaginable! Some are education aids, some are just for fun! Here, they make next to none. I think Lou made one for Christmas. I can’t imagine them having time to color either. I believe this suggests that North American schools win for fun factors.
even happy under the tree

Something else I’ve been wondering about is whether or not they will give out little Valentine’s Day cards. That seems like such a commercial spin off of the holiday, I can’t imagine them taking part. Oh well. I’ll bake some heart cookies again so we can celebrate.
where we ate lunch

I swear I left and arrived early to pick Marie-Anne up from the station. However, I some how forgot that she said she would be waiting on the Taxi pick up side. Which really did not make any sense to me because she picked me up from the other People side last time. Anyways, it looked as if I was late picking her up, but really I was just on the other side of the tracks. She was not pleased, oh well.
this was 2pm

When we got home I continued crafting and then she left to get groceries. I made myself some supper then popped in When Harry Met Sally and for the first time, tried watching it in French. It may have been because I was only paying half of my attention to it, it may have been because I know the jokes and know how they’re supposed to sound, but eventually I had to get up and change it to English because it was almost painful to listen to. Not only were the lips off (normal) but the jokes were not the same (understandable) and the voices just did not match those of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (which is just unacceptable).

I ended up turning it off so I could be 100% productive on posting my Paris photos, which ended up taking me 2 hours anyways and made me too tired to post last night.
same cat as last time... i think it
lives there...

Well, here ya go.

But. I have bad news.

That funky thing with my computer is going on again, but this time not so bad because I can use the internet. Anyways, in this Safe Mode, I can’t upload my photos onto my computer. Which is no good, for me nor you.

Let’s hope I get it sorted out tomorrow when I visit the computer guys again.

first lemon tree ive ever seen.
"that tree has lemons and limes! oh wait.."