Sunday, December 25, 2011

Noël à Paris!

Joyeux Noel! Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Love Cats.

Yes, today is Christmas and Rachael and I have been in Brioude for two days now doing nothing but relaxing, eating, and drinking...and I've been doing some cooking. This time of repose was much needed because Paris at Christmas time is a crazy freaking mess! We are completely exhausted from our trip I think...also Rachael's back is in a lot of pain which unfortunately has put her through complete hell at times throughout the course of her stay here...but she's been a trooper all the same...also I've been pumping her with tea and pain killers...only the best kinds.

Anyway, yes...Paris...crazy right now, but I think we did alright for out-of-towners. Thanks to the metro (OVERCROWDED) we did so much in only four days and three nights. I feel good about navigating Paris now though...we did a killer job at getting around and we barely had to use maps...didn't look like tourists at all really except for the excessive amount of photographs we were taking. 

Paris Trip 2011

TUESDAY (DAY 1)

On my arrival at Paris-Bercy train station, I had to quickly get my bearings...you can always tell when you're in Paris because people walk much faster, and they also drive like idiots...therefore you have to quickly get acclimated to this atmosphere or you'll be run over...or worse...you'll get lost and the only people there to help you are Parisians...they frighten me.

 See what I mean? Look how scary she is...just kidding...I don't even know if she's really Parisian...but you get the idea.

After a few minutes on the crowded metro, I found Rachael which amazes us both because we said we would meet at a metro station which has several exits...I tried to choose the most obvious one and it turns out that great minds do think alike because we found each other easily enough...which is a good thing because she had no way of contacting me had we not found each other...whew. We then checked into our hostel early, got settled in, and explored Montmartre a bit. We found several cute shops where I could buy over-priced things...like fancy tea (but it's soooo good)!

After eating a kebab, because I was famished and needed something classy for lunch, and climbing la butte to see Sacre Coeur, we stumbled across the Moulin de la Galette which has been painted several times by many famous artists including this guy...


Needless to say, it was a nice surprise. There was also a great little bar across the street where I introduced Rachael to my favorite wine (Gewurzstraminer) and my favorite beer (Delirium Tremens)...also needless to say, afterwards we were feeling real good about being in  Montmartre on such a beautiful Tuesday afternoon. 

see...don't I look happy?

And I was...so happy until later that night...later that night I looked a little more like this...


I just have one thing to say about day one...don't eat beef tartare...period.

WEDNESDAY (DAY 2)

After a rather difficult night, I awoke Wednesday morning feeling much better and unexpectedly refreshed. Rachael slept nearly until noon...getting used to being six hours ahead and all that, but after she woke up we continued sight seeing...

We decided it might be cool to swing by Pere Lachaise cemetery where lots of influential people are buried...like Moliere, Edith Piaf, Colette, and Oscar Wilde...oh look...here's Oscar now!


This was written in lipstick on a glass case that surrounds his grave...they had to put the glass up because people kept kissing the grave...cool.

After all those dead people, I needed to go shopping, so we hopped the metro to move closer to the Seine. We came across some great vintage shops which is exactly what I wanted...I bought some killer boots and a bright red sweater vest...had a heart attack when I found both items. Oh and we took some pictures outside of the Centre Pompidou...no need to go in. haha.


We later found ourselves window shopping on the Rue St. Honore and buying macaroons at Laduree...they're the best in the world no doubt!

yum...I just finished eating them today for gouter :)

We returned to Montmartre to have dinner in a cafe that we stumbled across the evening prior...the Deux Moulins. If you ever find yourself in Pigalle, you must go...just take a left at the Moulin Rouge, go one block and it's on the left. It's the cafe that Amelie Poulain worked in in the film...everything inside is Amelie themed and everything looks just like it did in the movie...except for the tabac...that's been removed. I loved the Deux Moulins...I had steak-frites (which I digested...yes!) and a cocktail called a "Collignon"...also I stole the place mat.

...geeked out when I first saw it :)

INTERMISSION...now would be a great time to brew yourself a nice cup of tea...but please do come back for Day 3...
THURSDAY (DAY 3)

If I had to describe last Thursday in one word...Versailles! The Chateau de Versailles was everything I ever imagined it would be! As a huge fan of the Sofia Coppola film, Marie Antoinette, my expectations were high, but were met all the same! My state-side best friend Meredith has been on my ass about going since I came to France, and I finally made it there...so glad we decided to go! Also the chateau wasn't too crowded so we were able to have a pleasant stroll down the hall of mirrors...see...

that's me with my little orange backpack :)

great floor.

by the way...Rachael took these three photos...they're too good to have been taken by me...

La Chambre de La Reine...this is now my desktop background...gorgeous!!!

There are few words for Versailles...I think that's why I mainly have posted pictures...they speak for themselves...and far better than I could...hmmm let's see...I didn't do anything crazy in Versailles except I started singing the guitar riff of "Rococo" by Arcade Fire in a room that was decorated in Rococo style...couldn't help it.

Soundtrack to Versailles...


Also! I almost forgot...on the way to Versailles on the RER C...which I enjoy RER train rides...they allow you to see the residential side of Paris and to sit and reflect...anyway on the way to Versailles, on this train, I was in the middle of telling Rachael how I prefer trains to coaches...when suddenly (tout a coup) a man started playing a rendition of Jingle Bells on his accordian...it was a lovely moment on the RER, and I can't possibly explain how happy it made me...but when the man came around asking for money...I said I didn't have any...am I a bad person? Probably...oh well...but Rachael did just remind me that I was the only one on the car who applauded him.

After grabbing a couple of sandwiches and hopping the RER again we ended up at Montparnasse Tower where we were able to capture some amazing photos of Paris. Well, it wasn't that simple...never is. First I had to deal with the rude man at the entrance of the tower...he wasn't helpful at all and talked to me like I had no IQ...he used hand gestures...I almost killed him! Didn't even know I could get sassy in French, but I did a little bit...after that we dealt with more rude jackasses on our way to the top...basically the people that work there don't listen to anything you're saying and they just keep telling you ..."yes...this way to the top!"..."yes...this way to the exit" and that's fine, but I don't want those answers when I have to pee and I want a toilet...anyway I had an angry face...but thankfully no weapon.


But my angry face changed into a happy face when we saw the 360 view from the top...after riding on the fastest elevator in Europe...it makes your ears pop.


I guess this is why the view is better from Montparnasse Tower than from the Eiffel Tower...lovely.

After Montparnasse Tower, I needed a gouter and some tea and Rachael needed to rest her back a bit so we headed to the hostel. After this, we commenced our quest in search of the Eiffel Tower by night. One of the teachers at school told me that it isn't very crowded around nine o'clock at night so we headed out on the metro, in the late evening towards Charles de Gaulle Etoile metro station...

When exiting this metro station, the first thing you see is the Arc de Triomphe...magnificent...the second thing you see is usually street performers and far too many tourists...in a word the Champs Elysees was madness!!! The Christmas lights this time of year are gorgeous of course, but there are far too many fools trying to take photos in front of them on the crowded sidewalk...we were glad to make it to the Pont Alexandre III...my favorite bridge in Paris.

After crossing the Pont in awe of the Seine at night...we began searching for one of my favorite bistros on the left bank...a mere block from the Eiffel Tower we finally found it and settled in for some savory Boeuf Bourgignon and a glass of Bordeaux...maybe a glass of Pinot Gris as well :) At the restaurant we watched some tacky tourists eating escargot and taking pictures of each other eating escargot...we felt very cool because we weren't doing the same thing...and watched on as holier-than-thou, experienced Parisians.

After a successful dinner that Rachael was fully impressed with...we came to the Eiffel Tower and stuck around until nine o'clock when it sparkles on the hour...it was magic...and at this point we felt that our crazy yet amazing vacation in Paris was complete!


FRIDAY (DAY 4)...A.K.A...WITHIN THE DEPTHS OF HELL

There isn't much else to say about Day 4 except that it resembled this...



...we were trying really hard to get the hell out of Paris because we'd had enough of the crowds and the madness...it was time to go home...and that's what Brioude is for me now...home...I'm truly happy here and I'm going to have a seriously hard time leaving my new home and the amazing people that I've met here...I'll probably cry a lot when I leave...and I don't usually cry.

Since our return from Paris...Rachael and I have been laying low in my apartment (we also cooked foie gras...which smells funky) which she describes as being rather homey which makes me happy...I'm glad someone else sees in it what I do...she's been taking a few pictures which I love...like this one of the kitchen...



Today we'll try and venture out into town because she needs to see more of my little town of Brioude!

Ciao and thanks for reading this super long blog about our trip...and I hope everyone had a Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) Until next time...bisous!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Franglespanol

Alone! Yes...I'm alone!
And so bored!!
So...I'm trying to turn these dull circumstances/emotions into creative energy by writing! Here goes nothing!

First here's a nice "I've been alone all day in my apartment, and I'm slowly losing my mind" song to listen to while you read...enjoy!


Hmmm let's see...this week was great! Wednesday's Girl's Day was a complete success, and I don't think it will be the last girl's day...many more to come. Anyway on the way to Clermont-Ferrand three phenomena occured...
  1. We saw like ten rainbows.
  2. I listened to 80's French music...blew my mind.
  3. Together we created a new language...one that I've decided to call Franglespanol...
Franglespanol: Christine speaks French mostly...I respond in French sometimes, but mostly in English because I'm an ass...all the while Maria Fernanda teaches us some words in Spanish, but Christine is the only one who learns anything because I suck at Spanish...
...it's a lot of fun really.

On arrival in Clermont-Ferrand we had Quick...which is like McDonalds kind of. I know...great idea before trying on clothes! After eating lunch, we fabulously headed over to the mall to try on some outfits and be super girly for a change! I squeezed into a killer green dress in Zara and did some serious damage in H&M, but all in all a good shopping day. Oh and I bought two berets...because they're fabulous.

After a fun Tramway ride through town, we made it to Place Jaude to shop some more, but somehow I ended up on a ferris wheel. I was scared to death at first because I don't like heights or rides for that matter...I mean I don't even go to the fair...ever. But...I got on this Wonder Wheel...and I think I liked it...good first experience on a ferris wheel with my best friend and my roomie!


Besties on the wheel...with berets!


View of C-F from the wheel...lovely!

[Photos compliments of Maria Fernanda...actually I don't think she knows I put them on my blog, but that's ok ;)]

Thursday night...no... I guess I'll keep that to myself...hehe.

Well, I'm getting tired now and I've got a big travelling day tomorrow so I think I'll go to bed now. And don't worry... next time I actually will write about Paris! And the best part of all is that for the next week I won't be bored or alone!

Ciao.

P.S. here's some more Beach House...thank me later.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rocking out....No Doubt!

I'm really bored today...only have one class at three and I've been doing laundry since I woke up because I have a lot...Maria Fernanda has been laughing at me since she got back from class because I have so many dirty clothes.

Anyway, today's inspiration...Gwen Stefani...I want to be her!!!...well circa No Doubt...



It's My Life....The clothes are to die for and she's a bad ass who kills her boyfriends.


Simple Kind of Life...I want the pink hair...especially when it's really curly...:)


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gee...I love it here...

Christmas is coming up soon. Oh joy. The time of year in which I spend far too much money and get extremely annoyed by holiday tunes. Well, no matter...this Christmas is going to be special anyway. I will be spending December 20th through the 23rd in Paris with my good friend Rachael! So glad she's coming to visit because I miss her and because I would be utterly alone if she weren't coming to visit...now that would have been a sad sight, and I probably would never have recovered. So far we've got some interesting plans for our jaunt in Paris including a weird museum, an American bookshop, Montparnasse tower and the catacombs...'tis the season to be jolly! We're coming back to Brioude on the 23rd and Rachael will be heading back to the states on the 27th...maybe we'll travel around Auvergne a bit while she's here. Christmas dinner will probably consist of popcorn, sausage, and a quiche...since I know how to make one now....


If I look happy it's because I'm about to eat the damn thing :)

Brioude looks so cute right now! I think they've done a good job of putting lights up around town...there are a lot of them and they really cheer the place up at night...see I like a little holiday cheer. I need to take more pictures of Brioude because I love it, and my best friend at home, Meredith, told me I had to take more pictures of my everyday life...I'm having trouble completing this task so far, but I'm hoping Rachael can help with this when she comes next week...she's a better photographer anyway.

Anyway, last week...I felt really busy. I made some of my amazing guacamole on Tuesday for a degustation that we had in the staff room...yum...and I think everyone liked it...I mean it was all gone...after I basically licked the bowl...what? I love guac.

I use lemon juice, but whatever.

Hmmm...last Wednesday I saw Happy Feet 2 with Christine and her kids. The film was too cute, and I always have fun with them :)

just look at the little fellow....

Thursday I had a good day at school...all of my lessons were cool. For example, I did the new "Marry the Night" music video with 1ere. I was really excited about that class because I adore the video, and one of the kids in that class is a huge Lady Gaga fan just like me. However, the other kids had things to say about the video too because...hello...it's Gaga...and she's outrageous...yet fabulous.

"I'm gonna be a star!"

Thursday night was great! I went to La Comedie de Clermont-Ferrand to see a spectacle with some of the lycee kids! One of the teachers at school gave me his ticket because he's nice and because he couldn't go for whatever reason. I honestly didn't really want to go at first, but I'm certainly glad I did because the show was killer!! It was called "Murmures des Murs"...which is difficult to say for an American girl. If I had to describe the piece, I would say it is a magical dance piece full of illusions....and magic! I loved it...it was totally weird.


This weekend was crazy. Loco. That's all I have to say...well if I had to sum it up in so many words...
  • cowboy hat
  • rum and coke
  • pizza
  • baby kitten
  • birthday party
  • good wine
  • headache
  • train
  • Martin Luther King Jr


Wow...this blog post is really light on the litterature and heavy on the photos...I guess it's ok...I'm feeling lazy and that's why people like magazines anyway right? 
I'm sure this week will be amazing because it's week B, and I love week B. Also Christine, Maria Fernanda, and myself are going to have a girl's day in Clermont-Ferrand on Wednesday...can't wait! Going to go shopping even though I shouldn't...and I'll be preparing for the trip to Paris next week and Rachael's arrival which is exciting! Tune in next time for Coco's blog: Christmas in Paris Special Edition with comments by Rachael Cannady....

bisous from Brioude!







Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So...November

I realize that I have been neglecting my readers...which is rude...I'm terribly sorry. The truth is that November has not been very exciting as a month. I haven't been anywhere too amazing in a while. I've just been working hard at school, cooking a lot (I'm really good at it by the way), and bothering Christine constantly (I don't know how she gets any work done with me around...she's good). Yep...with the exception of these rituals, not much is going on...things are calm... but this is a good thing right? Besides who cares what I'm doing...the important thing is that I'm exactly where I want to be right now :)

Anyway, my visa is finally validated! I think. There's no telling really, but the point is that I've done everything that I had to do with the immigration office...for now at least. I've got a nice new sticker in my passport that says I can work here legally which is fabulous. I love my sticker. Yeah...It took three trips (two of them failures) to Clermont-Ferrand to get my sticker, but on the third attempt (and the best...I think) I really had a lot of fun! I rode to Clermont-Ferrand with Christine and two other teachers at school because they were going to a "stage" (teacher's workshop) there anyway, and they were nice enough to let me come with them. I was so happy about this because it is so much faster by car than by train or coach...not to mention I saved 25 euros. That morning I went to the immigration office, and my appointment took all of five minutes. Yes, three trips to Clermont-Ferrand for five minutes of bliss at the guichet. After this, I celebrated by purchasing an over-priced backpack (really cute though) and two pairs of over-priced socks (also to die for). Moral of the story is you should never leave me alone in Galeries Lafayette...bad things happen.

Around noon that day, I successfully navigated my way to where I would find Christine and the other teachers so that we could go and have lunch...it was delicious. We had some great wine and pork ribs. I was pleasantly surprised to see ribs placed in front of me...I haven't eaten ribs since before my vegetarian days (glad those are behind me), but they were freaking amazing! God I love pork. Anyway, I was excited to hear that I could go back to the stage with the group because they had just watched The Fly (you know... disgusting yet fabulous film with Jeff Goldblum), and it had been rumored that even more fabulous film extracts were on the menu for the afternoon so I was dying to tag along. Not to mention the fact that my bank account would have been completely exhausted by the end of the day had I continued wandering around Clermont-Ferrand by myself all day. Anyway the film extracts that were shown at the stage were just what I needed...gorey, disgusting, hilarious, weird and very entertaining...loved it :) As my friend Bob would say..."It was the best day of ma life."


...someone's got a headache...



Isn't she fabulous?

Hmmm...let's see...what else have I been doing? I cook now! I know....huge development...and I cook a lot...and my food tastes good...I can't believe it myself. Recent victories include: boiled eggs, a chocolate dessert that I made up, scrambled eggs with three cheeses, and I also enjoy improving several dishes with sausage. Well, to tell the truth, I don't really know what I'm doing ever...so I make stuff up as I go along praying that I don't make anyone sick...when I say anyone I usually mean Maria Fernanda (for new readers, she's my roommate). She told me the other day when we were eating lunch or something...that I was a really good cook, and that she doesn't understand how I have all these recipes memorized...I laughed so hard.

Another thing I've been doing a lot lately is going to lycee (high school) classes that I'm not scheduled for. It all began when Christine made the mistake of telling me that I could come to her classes whenever I wanted to. She shouldn't have told me that because my new favorite thing to do is attend her classes when I'm not doing anything else. Why do I love doing this so much? Well, I get to spend more time around the students...they are getting used to my presence (and maybe starting to like me!!!) which is good...I get to see what teaching is all about which will help me decide what I want to do with my life in the future...and I get to hang out with my best friend so I enjoy it really. I really like working with the lycee! I think the kids like me which everyone knows is my main goal in life (to get everyone to like me). Bob wants to make a guest appearance in the lycee, but I don't think he should. He's English, and the kids might like him more than me...that would be tragic and I might never recover so...

Well, this past Sunday, Maria Fernanda's person (Isabel) took us to the local chocolate festival, and two charming villages that are only a few kilometers away from Brioude...not to mention she fed us lunch...so nice of her :) Anyway here are a few photos from Sunday...the first two were taken in Massiac and the third was taken in Blesle.

                                   
                                     I think this is my bitch-face...didn't mean to make it though


Maria Fernanda takes a much better picture.


Blesle...so charming.

Catch ya later :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's Sunday so I'm blogging...

Hello everyone!
So, this week was weird. I only had classes for one day which was Friday. I was supposed to go back on Thursday, but it turns out that Maria Fernanda and I had to go to Clermont-Ferrand for our medical visits that are required by the French government because we are not members of the European Union...I think...well something like that. Anyway, I was pretty stressed about going because I've never really been to Clermont-Ferrand and it's a pretty big city. You have to take a tram to get anywhere really and that had me worried, but somehow we were able to navigate the city pretty well. We made it to both of our medical visits on time, but not to the OFII office (immigration office) because their hours of operation are shit. Anyway, Clermont-Ferrand is a very nice city...the church that's in the middle of town looks beautiful, but I haven't gone in yet...need to go one day and do some site-seeing instead of having my lungs examined etc. In order to let off some steam because I was dissapointed that we didn't make it to the OFFI office (oh yeah and I have to go back next week because we didn't make it...so happy...not), I decided that we should indulge in some retail therapy because I had been paid recently and I like shopping. There is a lot of shopping to be done in Clermont-Ferrand which is wonderful and dangerous for me. There is a pretty big shopping center in the middle of town which we had no trouble finding, and when we were inside of it for the first time I really felt like we were in the United States. It was just like any American mall only everyone speaks French and the prices are all in Euros....but that's ok because I have Euros now! Well...needless to say some damage was done to my bank account by the end of the day, but I bought at least one Christmas present, and I came out with a cool watch...that I love. Didn't take any pictures in Clermont-Ferrand because...well I don't know why I didn't...but I didn't...sorry.

Friday morning was glorious...absolutely wonderful. I had a new class that I didn't really have to prepare for because it was my first time with them. Granted I had to wake up early because the class is at 8, but I had so much fun! I really felt like I was just hanging out with some people at what just so happened to be an ungodly hour. Everything went really naturally, the students had no trouble understanding me, they laughed at my dumb jokes, they even liked me. Well, they probably thought I was crazy, but if it gets them to talk I don't mind...plus I am crazy.

Friday afternoon...not so great. I had another class...that wasn't new to me...which really has trouble with English. That would be fine if it were the only problem, but the trouble is that they don't really want to improve or learn English at all for that matter. They've told me this. With that class, sometimes I just feel like my efforts are for nothing...especially when one of the students is sleeping all the time. The experience with that class on Friday really got me down...was feeling pretty depressed...plus my vitamin D tank is on empty...we haven't had sunshine in a long time.

Luckily, I have some good friends. Bob forced me to get out of bed and fed me my favorite pasta...then we had drinks with our friend Billy (American assistant who never left). He is always funny, and by the end of the night we were all practicing our French with some other people we met while we were out...anyway it was a lot of fun and I felt much better afterwards.

Yesterday, was awfully boring for the most part because I was washing clothes from sun up to sun down...my fault...I let them pile up. However, Maria Fernanda and I were invited to dinner by my friend and Curtis' colleague, Alexis. Alexis is the guy who drove Curtis and I to Spain. He is American, but his parents were French or something so he speaks really good French, and his wife, Selene, is Mexican and so sweet...love her...and their little boy Daniel is super cute and he speaks a mixture of French, English, and Spanish...and he's obsessed with Carrefour Market. Anyway, I think we were invited to dinner because Alexis and his wife were hosting a Spanish Assistant from Nicaragua at their house for the week-end and they wanted to include Maria Fernanda in this night of speaking Spanish and eating Mexican/Nicaraguan food. Maria Fernanda doesn't know them, but I told them that I lived with an assistant from Bolivia and they were just dying to meet her so...we both went. The food was sooooo good and it was spicy...lots of flavor which is something I miss about home (and there aren't many things that I miss). They hadn't started cooking by the time we got there so we helped and it was fun. I learned some more Spanish words over dinner...and I'm kind of proud of my pronunciation. We chatted in French because it was the common language which is always good practice for me, and for the other girls too, but every now and then Selene, Maria Fernanda, and Ascencion (girl from Nicaragua...spelling is probably wrong) would burst out in Spanish, but I didn't mind :)

I guess that brings me to today...pretty uneventful, but I think I needed it to be. I finished tidying up my room, got my papers in order so that they're not in a big mountainous pile on my desk. Planned lessons for Monday and Tuesday of this week...picked a person that inspires me and why (for one of my classes)...performed a healthy amount of facebook stalking...did some youtubing... made some stir fry...had some tea...listened to classical music and rap, but not simultaneously...changed my desktop background...etc. If you've ever lived with me, you know that these are all simple pleasures that I enjoy on a boring, rainy Sunday, therefore I can honestly say that today I am perfectly content except for the fact that I am freezing my ass off right now, but I've managed to trap some body heat under my covers (it took like an hour though). Also the clothes that I washed yesterday won't dry...dammit.

Well until next time my friends...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Come on...it's the holidays!


Happy Halloween everyone (kind of late I know). At home, Halloween is my favorite holiday, but here in France it isn't really celebrated that much...just by random cool people. Yes, it seems that the French really enjoy buying mums and celebrating La Toussaint (All Saints Day) which is tomorrow. Anyhow, in honor of La Toussaint, I am in the midst of a little over a week-long holiday from school which is nice. Things were fairly uneventful this past week, except for the good times I've had with Christine and her family of course...oh and Bob too I guess, until my friend Curtis (who is assisting in Le Puy) invited me to go on a day trip to Spain!

I was really surprised at myself for actually going because I'm not usually that spontaneous, but obviously I really wanted to go because I've never been to Spain before and it was about time I did some travelling. However, I really enjoyed our day in Spain and I got to see some things that I've never seen before...like original paintings by Salvador Dali!!!!

Oh look here's one now...a self-portrait actually...



Yes it was a little crowded in the Dali Museum...at one point I was looking down at my camera...deciding whether or not to delete a picture I had just taken, and I realized I was leaning against the frame of another painting...I can't believe I wasn't thrown out for that...gotta love Spain. You know why else you should love Spain? Everything is cheaper there and you get more stuff. For lunch in Girona, we went to a restaurant and had huge meals, great service, and large wine glasses which were actually filled.

Oh yeah I guess I didn't say exactly where I went in Spain...the towns we visited:

Bisbal...ceramics capital of the world



Girona...lots of nice graffiti


And last but definitely not least....Figueres...home of Dali


I'm certain that Figueres was my favorite town of all because of the quirky museum, and because I felt it was a good sized town...not too big like Girona and not too small like Bisbal...but just right and there is an abundance of surrealist art. Yes, I only spent a day in Spain which was a little too short, but I'm glad that I did it, and I don't know what else to say about it except that it smells a little in Spain (like farm animals).

Anyway, I was glad to get back from Spain just because I'm always happy to return to my little town of Brioude. Oh yeah the day after I got back I went to Christine's daughter's birthday gouter...I felt honored to be invited because Christine's whole family was there, and I'm just some crazy American girl who's always hanging around. I brought them some Reese's because they're my favorite and I think they liked them...I mean they were devoured. Anyway the wine was good (as always) and I love Christine's family...oh and Christine :)

Had a pretty crazy week-end, but I met some cool people which is good. I had a soiree (little party at my place) on Saturday night which I was really excited about because it was my first time entertaining at my apartment. Let's just say I had too much fun at my own soiree...no that's an understatement, but whatever. It was nice to have all my fabulous friends over for a night of sheer indulgence...hopefully they all still love me :)

My roommate Maria Fernanda is back from Paris...it's nice to have her back in the apartment also I can get back to practicing some French at home. I feel like a jerk because I was supposed to call people/skype people this week-end, and I didn't because I was very busy, but hopefully those people will still love me too...I think I'll leave you with a photo that I really like from Spain...



adios!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Went to Le Puy again today. Only this time I went with Bob. Bob is the English assistant who works in the primary schools in Brioude. I'm always really jealous of him because he's the town celebrity (even though I like to think that I am...haha). Seriously though, all the little kids come running up to him in the street wanting to say hi, etc....it's like he's the new Jesus or something. Anyway we're becoming good friends, Bob and I. It is good to have someone around who is going through the same things I am, and who actually wants to talk to me and go places with me. Well, someone apart from Christine because I can't be bothering her constantly...just almost constantly...haha.

Well Le Puy was really nice despite the rain, the cold, and the way I was wearing the wrong shoes (I always do that....dammit). I don't think we were sure exactly of what we were going to do when we got to Le Puy today...we just knew we wanted to get out of town for the day. We ended up having breakfast at a crepe shop because we left so early in the morning that it wasn't breakfast time until we got there. Crepe was good...yum as usual, and we got some good medicine from a pharmacy in Le Puy thanks to the nice lady pharmacist there. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Bob and I both have nasty colds...mine's mostly a cough which sucks...I sound like I'm dying all the time...but I'll probably make it. After breakfast/taking our meds, we didn't really know where we were going so we just ended up wandering around...which is my favorite because you end up surprising yourself. Which is exactly what happened.

Le Puy en Velay is a really cool town. It's not too big yet much bigger than Brioude at the same time. The town features a couple of very high peaks amongst the shops and residences. They almost look like they don't belong there, but they're very cool...like I said before. Anyway one peak has a church on top and the other....a virgin. Today we climbed the peak to the virgin....well, it was more like we wandered up to the virgin. Anyway, it was the best day of wandering and sight-seeing I've experienced in a long while. The view from where the virgin stands is outstanding and you can actually climb up inside of her...yes I just said that. That part was fun/creepy...it was rainy and dark and creepy and creeky inside the virgin....not very virgin-like at all, but a good experience all the same :)

After this, we met up with some of the other assistants who live in Le Puy and had...you guessed it...more crepes...haha. It was delicious as usual and I was very hungry after our excursion to the virgin...hehe. It's nice to talk to some of the other assistants...I love Brioude, but sometimes I feel like I live on an island away from everything...that's a good feeling sometimes, but other times you have to venture onto the mainland so to speak....

Was happy to make it back home today as usual....kind of cold outside...don't want to go to school tomorrow...because I'm lazy, but the day will end well at least...Christine and I are having girl's night!!!! Woop Woop! I need a girl's night since I haven't had one...oh I dunno since I lived at Pointe West....depressing thought. No matter....tomorrow will be a fabulous girl's night...we're having pizza and watching Brides Maids....cannot wait!

I think I'll leave you with a picture of the virgin...
 close-up of the virgin...
 and me inside the virgin...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brioude...there are no words...ok maybe a few :)

Hmmm Brioude? What is there to say? I love it here! Of course there were  hard times in the beginning....getting used to living alone (at first anyway), getting used to a new place, getting used to a small town, getting used to everyone and everything being French. But, I can honestly say that now and probably for the past two and half weeks, I am totally and completely acclimated! What I cannot say is that I was able to do this on my own. I have several kind people to thank, but most of all...Christine Fontes.
Originally assigned as merely my "contact person" or "life-line" here in France, she has quickly become my best friend whether she likes it or not (but I think she likes it). Now, everyone knows that I have several best friends so I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings. If you already carried the title you haven't been stripped of it...don't worry. Hmmm what was I saying? Oh yeah...Christine...she's smart, very funny, loves stripes and nuts, hates dogs, and overall we speak the same language (in more ways than one...i.e. she's very good at English...I'm convinced that she speaks the language better than I do). Anyway from the first moment I saw her, I must have known a great friendship was in the works because when she picked me up from Brioude's little train station, I ran and gave her a big hug...I know it's not a very French thing to do, but I had to. I was so happy to finally have finished travelling and to have met someone who was finally going to help me get settled in! She has lovingly helped me with everything since I've been here (even figuring out how to use my gas stove), and I truly feel that I can talk to her about anything! I don't think I've ever become best friends with someone that fast before. It's only been something like a mere four weeks since we met, but she's like my sister :) Anyway, if Christine were reading this, she would probably tell me to stop talking about her so I will move on...
School...school has been great. The teachers are so nice to me and classes are going well I think (I hope so...don't really know what I'm doing). I love all of the English teachers especially, but everyone has been very welcoming and patient with me and my less than perfect French. One teacher even gave me a bike :) The students can misbehave sometimes, but I win them over eventually [come on...it's me :)]. So far in class I've used everything from Arcade Fire to The Devil Wears Prada to get the kids to speak/like English...sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't, but I'm trying and that's all I can do I guess.
Auvergne is so beautiful!!! I love when Christine lets me ride with her to Issoire or Le Puy (nearby towns) because I get to see the countryside and castles and lots of other cool stuff that I would never see at home. The food here is delicious...the wine is superb...and life just seems to be a little easier. I'm becoming more patient here which is something I really needed to learn. I love small town life because I am really never lost here...no there aren't as many distractions here as there are even in Columbia, but I'm learning to enjoy myself in simpler ways which is very good for me. Hugs and kisses to you all...and thanks for reading my stupid blog :)
Catch you later!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ok....woo that took forever! If anybody cares at this point, I am officially settled in in France...in Brioude more specifically. And when I say settled in, I really really mean it. Not only have I moved into my fabulously shitty (and I meant that in the best way) apartment, but I'm making friends. People are so nice here, and I'm beginning to feel more comfortable here than I do at home. I know, that's a scary thought. But it is so quiet here and beautiful, and quite unlike Columbia, South Carolina. I am usually partial to the beach, the sun, etc. but I'm getting used to life in the mountains and It is quite nice. 

I probably don't have to say it, but the food here is worth dying for sometimes. I don't eat out as much here because it is quite expensive, but it is more of a treat that way and the food is BETTER so it's worth the money.  It was like that in Paris except I was forced to eat out a lot those few days.

Oh yeah....PARIS. Was beautiful....just as I suspected. hehe. It is a crazy city, but I think I did alright for a first timer....freaked out a little in Charles de Gaulle airport though....that place still haunts my dreams.....oh and yes I took that photo :)

Met some fabulous and loving people in Paris....Ana and Marcos. They're both from Brazil, but Ana speaks English very well in my opinion. We became a little family of three for the few days we were in Paris because you can't see Paris alone...trust me I tried. It's physically possible, but utterly lonely. Anyway by day four, I was walking through Montmartre and someone asked ME for directions....sadly I had to admit that I wasn't Parisian, but I took the case of mistaken identity as a huge compliment.


I took this photo as I was walking up to la Butte for the first time...wanted to cry a little bit. I was blown away by how beautiful it is and the view from the top....i die. I went there everyday that I spent in Paris because the hostel was probably less than five minutes walk from there. At sunset it is unlike anything I've ever seen in my whole stupid life.


Oh yeah. Then I saw this and it was over. I've fallen in love with this country. 
I was always on the verge on tears in Paris just because most everything was beautiful. With almost every corner you take, there is something incredible revealing itself. I sound dumb, but I was moved. I was especially moved when I attended mass at Notre-Dame...the choir really does sound like angels :)

I think I'll finish up Paris with a few photos from my journey...







i die


I think that's enough for now, I have so much more to say about Brioude and how wonderful things are here, but I think I should save that for another post....just so I don't overwhelm anyone. haha
Til next time.