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!