Holiday Adventures Part III :New Years in Germany

 The last bit of my Christmas holiday journey I never finished writing. I’ve certainly had the time to blog but procrastination comes on a lot harder the less pressure there is to complete a task. It’s been nearly seven months since I’ve been held accountable to pretty much anything, and for some reason I thought a gap year would actually help me focus before my final year of university – HA.

Germany didn’t take long to warm up to. On prior presumptions, I really didn’t think much of visiting Munich. Schnitzel, and sausages, even beer isn’t really my thing. I was travelling with my same two friends as in Venice and the three of us boarded a direct train from Venice to Munich, super welcoming after spending a lifetime on a eurolines bus through the north of Italy to get to Venice. Trains are great. Because we didn’t book together I sat in another coach and hoped that we’d see each other on the way out because I wasn’t staying at the same hostel as them but with a couchsurfer. I’m not really sure how often the average German or Italian must travel between Munich and Venice but it did seem to be a train packed with tourists. My first encounter with a german couple was very pleasant. My contact had slipped and ended up underneath my eyelid which every contact wearer knows is the worst thing ever, so after rubbing my eye trying to blink it out for 15 minutes I asked the woman across from me if she had a compact mirror, this took another 3 min to describe and I can now proudly tell you the German word is Taschenspiegel. So shout out to the kind lady who didn’t bat an eye while I molested my naked eye trying to blink out a contact while getting my dirty hands all over that pretty little mirror.

My 2 euro phone plan does not work outside of France, which is not a big deal since nearly every place I end up has pay phones. I was to call my couch surfer when I made it to the subway stop he lived closest too and he and his girlfriend would meet me there, great. I figured I’d call him just to let him know I had arrived at the train station on time and everything was cool. No problem, but of course, he reminded me he wanted to know when I arrived at this stop, silly Canadian, can’t follow directions exactly as requested, file that under German-Canadian cultural differences. The problem was when I got to his suburban subway stop the pay phones were no longer tourist friendly. I love German, I really do but am not at all able to work with a payphone in only german instructions, I tried button mashing a couple times hoping I wasn’t wasting money and the call would go through. No luck. Next plan of action, ask a german to borrow their phone. I approached a gentleman of about my age waiting on a bench and in the stupidest, most condescending voice asked “Do you speak English?” to be fair, it was only condescending because in France and my experience in Italy nobody seems to either be keen to speak English or doesn’t know how to. In a near English accent he said yes and I asked if I could borrow his phone, no problem at all. He asked where I was from, why I was in Munich all the lovely little chit chatter you have with a stranger, in pretty much perfect English. Germany was making a great first impression.  Eventually getting a hold of my surfers and meeting them only 5 minutes later I happily arrived at their place. If I haven’t said it before, couchsurfers is one of the greatest little communities. I love hostels too, but surfing is getting a peak into the everyday lives of the people who live in the country your visiting. For anyone truly interested in people when travelling, couchsurfing is fantastic. It’s arriving late in a foreign city but having someone welcome you as if you’re home. Staying up testing shots of Bavarian liquors and discussing world news from the perspective of someone of the other side of the story. It’s learning your lives aren’t so different yet rich with different ideas, customs and culture. I spent only one night with my hosts in Munich but their hospitality and being schooled on a dozen german and other european liquors was a warm welcome.

In the morning I checked into my hostel and met up with my friends. Munich was a lot of time spent walking than taking in sights, which regrettably I did not do much. One evening one of our friends convinced us to show up for a beer tour, which we all thought sounded like a massive tourist trap but had potential for fun anyways. They set you up for disaster with one free beer at the beginning, and afree beer and jagershot at the end- WHY SEND YOU HOME LIKE THAT. We all happily downed pints at each of the three beer halls we went to, I seem to recall a lot more of the stories our charming tour guide, Dennis told us about the Bavarian beers and beer halls at the beginning of the walk than the end, hmm.. The following morning I was supposed to meet Lindsay and Kalynn for a tour but slept in, ended up going back to one of the beer halls for lunch (that was a challenge) and received the most disgusted look when I ordered orange juice at the beer hall, apparently people don’t do that.

And then it was New Years, we had a pretty tame night. Watching the fireworks from a massive crowd gathered in Marienplatz. I don’t know who was organizing this but there were fireworks going off from within the crowds hitting buildings with massive cracks. It was an incredible sight to see the fireworks dance around so close to Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall). Also a little frightening because it looked like at any moment I could get a flame to my eye. Retiring to bed I wasn’t sure what I was going to do the next day. My friends were heading to Frankfurt, a stopover before Amsterdam but I had lined up a car pool to Berlin for the next day, somewhere I’ve really wanted to see here. I told them, either way I’ll meet them at the train station and it’ll either be to say goodbye or with my bags to come along. In the end I decided to come along. As fate would have it the day before an Australian couple had given me their two German railpasses assuring me they’ve never been asked for ID before and if I planned on doing more travelling in Germany it was still valid and they were heading home. I thought this was a great reason to keep travelling with my friends because now going from Munich to Frankfurt would be totally free.

I got caught. Of course.

The officer nearly immediately asked for ALL our passports on taking our tickets. This was also the first time Kalynn and Lindsay had been asked with their Eurorail passes. And for the record, I have done many journeys via train and never even had my ticket checked. In this moment I had to decided very, very quickly what story I was going with. At this point Kalynn and Lindsay were stone faced without a clue what would happen to me, Lindsay strategically burying her face into pocket planes. I handed over my passport and ticket making a point of not looking at either. After what felt like 3 minutes she asked why the names don’t match, to which I replied “huh!??”. I said omg, Elise, she was in my hostel! I must have switched tickets! The officer was not impressed. She said “This is not good, not good at all, I’ll go make a call” and left with the ticket and passport. I had no idea what the penalty was for this but I was trying to remain as calm as possible while my imagination went wild with images of german jail cells. She came back eventually, again repeating “This is not good, not good”. She really didn’t need to remind me. Not offering any actual solutions I asked her what my options were. She punched some numbers into her pocket machine and told me I’d have to pay 200 euros. Shit. I really wasn’t left with anything else to do because I couldn’t insist my story was true and I did buy a ticket or railpass, if they hadn’t already they would have searched my passport number and saw I never purchased anything. So I told her, well I guess if that’s what I have to pay. She pressed some more buttons and then said 100 euros. I would have to pay 100 euros to go to Frankfurt. Not sure if it was my extra effort at politeness or she realized that was indeed the actual price but it was the price I saw when I checked the booth before getting on the train. I decided if it was inexpensive I could just pay the fare but nope, decided to risk it and then got caught.

Well situation that might have been worse potentially avoided but 100 euros lost. It get’s even better when we realized the three of us had all booked the wrong hostel, the airport hostel rather than the downtown hostel. Great. Not wanting to go through the hassle of changing because we were in Frankfurt for only one night we stayed and commuted downtown for the evening. The first thing you notice is the skyscrapers. I had paid 100 euros to come to a city that looked like a North American city, no matter, make the most of it. We attempted unsuccessfully to find where the student bars may be or even some entertainment, we couldn’t find anything. The sole piece of redemption was stumbling upon a Mexican restaurant that served nachos, that was magnificent. After nachos we retired to our airport hostel, Kalynn and Lindsay were to catch a train to Amsterdam the next morning and I was going to figure out the most cost effective way to get my now broke ass back to France. Checking car pools and couch surfing working out cheap bus lines and reading schedules in German, I was getting pretty frustrated at this point. I guess that’s been a pretty big point of growth for me, I’ve always been a procrastinator and really comfortable with not having a plan but at this point I was really worn down. I was also having problems accessing money on both my French and Canadian bank accounts with the both being declined at random places for no reason I could figure out. In a last ditch effort, I checked the trains knowing perfectly well last minute train tickets are often very expensive and I had to get all the way from Frankfurt to Grenoble. But there it was, SNCF, the French rail lines offering me a ticket for 90 euros with a train leaving 2 hours from then. Direct train, Germany to South-East France, 90 euros. I abandoned my plan to try to find the cheapest way home and went with the train that day because it meant I’d be back in Grenoble, not have to stress and the likely hood that I could get carpools, bus tickets and places to stay WHILE making it back in time for work on Monday, was unlikely.

By midnight that evening I was home. 200 euros over budget, but otherwise successful trip. Germany, I will be back.

 

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Once upon a time in China

So I’ve stumbled upon an old travel blog of mine, which had only this one post based on an actual travel experience. I figure it’d be nice to have all my travel experiences in one neat little blog so here it is. A throwback to the trip that propelled my wanderlust into a full-fledged passion.

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So unfortunately I didn’t post anything about my trip this past May. It wasn’t until after my trip I was inspired to keep a blog.

In May I spent two weeks travelling China. From Northern China to Southern I saw Beijing, Shanghai and finally Hangzhou. I went as a part of an experiential learning trip at school so I didn’t have any say in the predetermined itinerary, much of which the focus was on our studies (Chinese retail). How ever the trip did have us visiting many historical and cultural sites. It is also very arguable that retail is an important part of understand a cultural so even that was fascinating. 

Our days were long and full of wonderful happenings so I really wish I had kept a journal or blog. This post could be pages long if I wanted to record every experience. To save some reading I’ll just write of my favourite moments.

Beijing was were we began our journey. A 12 hour flight to a destination 12 hours ahead really messed up my internal clock. The city was overwhelming to say the least. Living in Toronto did not prepare me in the least for the masses of people in this city. At 11pm at night the local Carrefour was STILL packed with shoppers. Right away you notice the differences in this cities operation, the roads for one were subtly different. As one would expect the road lines,signs and whatnot were different but just driving etiquette was different. It was organized chaos but it seems to work, being in a taxi made me feel like I was in one of those high speed car racing video games with last minute turns and choppy speeding. All over China it was pretty much the same, they also have a TON of very wide bike lanes. I suppose this is more to do with keeping the roads less congested than environmentalism but it is fantastic none the less as so many people utilize them.

I loved walking around the streets of China. There were always vendors on the side of the streets selling fruits, veggies, toys and other unidentifiable stuff. Always people around, always such a pulsing cities. The population in Beijing was pretty evident though.. the sky was yellow permanently and at night when we got home and showered the water would turn black. Not to mention the icky black boogies we’d blow out of our nose.. ew. Beijing was incredible though because we were able to visit so many of the sites that were the setting of great world history. I really need to read a book on what I saw because I mix up all the different dynasty’s in China up. The Summer Palace was amazing, so beautiful. I also was particular to the story of the dragon lady so any recommendations on a good biography I would really appreciate. We saw the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in one day (what an amazing day). The Forbidden City was where the imperial family lived from the Ming-Qing dynasty I believe. It’s a huge, intricate place. It’s so different from any European castles or palaces, your really see the old Chinese culture from an incredible place like this. And the Great Wall – WOW. I’ve never been so stunned, so inspired in my whole life. I’m happy to say I have seen one of the new great wonders of the world. And it is a wonder. It was a challenge to climb though.. some places are so steep and the path is so worn that the stones are slippery. I think the moment I had climbed the highest peak we could see from where we climbed the wall was when I was like “I am actually in China, ME, small town Devon in China..on the great wall”. It was an incredible moment.  From Beijing we took a sleeper train to Shanghai. That was an experience. The Beijing train station was unpleasant to say the least. It’s evident that it is very well used. The sleeper train wasn’t terrible at all though. There are cabins of four beds (two bunk beds) and it was all very modern. We prepared for bed on the train and slept the 8 hourish overnight ride from Beijing to Shanghai. My only regret is not being able to see the beautiful landscape between the two cities. 

Shanghai I loved. I feel in love with this city. Maybe I’m partial to it because we got to spend time with local expats. A friend of mine had a high school friend we met up with who is currently teaching in Shanghai so we were able to spend our Shanghai nights visiting the locals favourite spots. I can’t say much besides it was incredible. The city is vibrant, welcoming and truly a lot of fun. Such an international city too, its a mix of western and China from the architecture to the people. I met people from all around the world in Shanghai. The next city was a three hour bus ride south of Shanghai. Hangzhou was definitely the most livable city I visited however. It’s called the “Paradise of China” and it lives up to that name. The city is beautiful and the pace of life feels far more at ease than in Shanghai and Beijing. The city has gardens everywhere, and the beautiful West Lake is a breathtaking site. I think I could live there for sure. Even the food was sweeter. Interesting to note different regions of China have different tastes to their food. Hangzhou’s was sweet and spicy so I far more enjoyed it to the “interesting” dishes I tried in Beijing. 

I feel so fortunate I was given the opportunity to travel to China because it was never really a destination I planned on visiting. I’m so happy I did though and got to see this country incredibly rich in culture. I definitely want to go back with friends to share my experiences with them and see a few more sites I didn’t get to on my trip (like the mountains, and visit Hong Kong).

Thanks for reading my exceptionally long entry 🙂
Maybe it’s inspired you to visit China? 

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Holiday Adventures Part II

A little late to the game with this one, I wrote it over the Christmas holidays on a train from Venice to Munich. I have yet to write about my time in Germany but I’ll get to it soon.

 

 

The last few weeks have been a countdown to the holidays. My students were getting anxious for the holidays, and even though I told them I was probably more excited than them, no amount of pleading could get them to focus enough for any of my lessons with them, so yes, I have been living for the winter break.

Mostly everyone in my Grenoble social circle went home for the holidays, even quite a few Americans. Although I didn’t want anything more for Christmas than to be with my family, returning back to Canada never crossed my mind as an option for the two weeks I have off. There’s still so much travelling I want to do, that and two friends from Canada flew over to spend their winter break here as well, so now here we are. On a 7 hour train ride from Venice to Munich.

I will never again say Canada doesn’t have a culture. I know that’s something we tend to say considering how much of a mixing pot Canada is, but now being 3 months apart from the country I was born and raised in, I can say with certainty Canada has distinctly Canadian culture. It is also quite funny how I’ve begun to accept French culture so much, as I’m introducing life in France to my friends I’m seeing how some of the things I rejected so much when I first got here as just life, in fact many of the things I enjoy. I will happily adapt the habit of drinking my tea or coffee in a relaxed manner, not in a to-go cup. Doing my grocery shopping daily, always buying fresh produce in the morning and possibly even a baguette in the evening, and I’m definitely never afraid to have a glass of wine with every meal now. But beyond this, even understanding that the French eat on a much later schedule than us North Americans and you cannot expect restaurants to be open before 6, sometimes 7pm. I took my friends to Lyon, and amongst all the excitement I forgot that restaurants are closed before 7 and museums are often closed on Mondays. We went on a Monday afternoon, definitely not the right timing if you want to do anything there. The day trip to Lyon was not what was expected but the next day- Christmas Eve, we spent in Annecy which definitely was worth the 2 hour train ride. Between the illuminated canals, hot wine and the fairytale-esque walkways, I don’t think there was anywhere more Christmasy in all of Europe.

It’s already a week into vacation which means only a week left to go. It’s been amazing getting to travel with my friends, but admittedly, I have not missed my family and home so much as since when they came. They just remind me of everything back home so much that’s been easy to put out of my head while meeting new people and doing things that don’t remind me of home.  But either way, Venice was a dream and Germany promises to be a good time too, so I’m quite happy to be here in Europe still.

 

 

 

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A response to “23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” by a single 21 year old

An article written by an American travel blogger living in China has been making its rounds on the internet since it was posted a week ago. I was really hoping for something insightful, or relatable from “23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”, but I was disappointed. You can read the article for yourself here, or allow me to give you a breakdown. 

Irked by the number of young facebook friends OP has seen getting engaged recently, she compiled a list of 23 things you should do instead of getting engaged in your early 20’s (of which I’m sure 90% of us have all completed during a 5th grade slumber party). But before that was a rant that read more like an anti-marriage cry than a thoughtful piece on why young 20 something year olds should wait for marriage. 

But then I look at my life, my relationships, and my future… and I realize that, I’m fucking awesome.  It literally isn’t me, it’s them. I have begun to notice a common thread amongst all these young unions: inexperience.  Inexperience with dating, traveling, risks, higher education, career direction, SEX, solitude, religious exploration, etc… and it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.”

Uhm, what? Before this thoughtful little paragraph, OP also posted numerous false facts about divorce rates and the average age of people getting married. But with this piece of work OP blatantly presents her own self-righteousness and it’s awful. Do us millennial really sound like this? Do I sound like this?

“If your love is truly eternal, what’s the rush? If it’s real, that person will continue to be committed to you 2 months from now, 2 years from now, and 2 decades from now. Grow, learn, travel, party, cuddle, read, explore. Do. Freaking. Something… other than “settle down” at 23 with a white picket fence.”

And if your love is true, and you have found the person right for you, why would you not be able to do these things with that person? I also don’t get why some people don’t understand that settling down at 23 with a white picket fence IS some peoples idea of happiness. Not everyone has the same desire for the unknown and insecure as people who live more nomadic lives. I would’ve also thought that someone as well travelled as this blogger would have understood the diversity amongst people and see that culturally, we all aspire for different things.

For the record
I’m 21
I’ve traveled, and now live abroad
I’ve kissed strangers, eaten a jar of nutella in one sitting, disappointed my parents, nearly everything on that list.
My parents have divorced and remarried, my mother, twice

I have seen how my ideas on marriage and love have changed through every relationship I’ve been in and through travelling and by all that, learning what’s really important to me, and my life. And I think I’ve been where the OP has been. I used to think adventure, and travel were going to magically make me into the best version of myself, and that it was something I had to do alone. I have never for a second thought that made me better than anyone else, which is what it sounds like OP is saying. I travel and I moved to France because I felt that’s where I needed to be next, and maybe because I was chasing adventure. I now understand that it’s what makes me happy, and there is nothing wrong with people wanting otherwise. If owning a house and having children makes you happy and you’ve done it, then congratulations! You’re chasing your dreams.

It’s obvious OP has a skewed idea of what makes a happy marriage, admittedly, I have once too. You can meet someone at any age, if they’re the right person, why would you have to stop doing what you love? Travelling, knitting, raising sheep, anything. You can do that and grow together. I’ve shared so much with my friends, and they have all helped me grown and shaped me into the person I am, why wouldn’t my partner be able to do the same? And age? I have a hard time believing that matters either, it’s maturity that matters, which clearly our OP is missing and THAT’S why marriage before 23 wouldn’t work. I can’t stand people thinking they’re better than someone else who has found happiness with someone else just because it didn’t require them to abandon everything back home. 

I told my dad not too long ago that I don’t ever get married. I blamed it on the examples of marriage I had before me, what it was, was immaturity. By then I hadn’t recognized what marriage truly means and what would make a happy one for me. No, it’s not the same as my parents, but that’s okay because we’re different people and what makes us each happy in many aspects of our lives are different. 

I’m not exactly dating right now, living abroad and knowing that there will be sooner than I think a day when I board a plane back to Canada does not exactly inspire love, but I came across a lyric recently, if you’re not ready for love how can you be ready for life? Love is so important to the human experience, and sure, people get married for the wrong reasons sometimes but I’m certain you can be married under 23 and it be the best possible thing for some people. I’ll know for sure it’s the right time and person to marry when I know that my life is not ending as soon as I’m married. 

If I had written a list of 23 things to do before being engaged by 23 it would read more like..

1. Learn to pay bills on time
2. Finish my degree
3. Stop drinking an entire bottle of wine in a night like it’s a normal thing

Hopefully I can do these things by the time I’m 23 regardless of my relationship status.

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Venice, the most serene

After arriving into France for the first time, arriving in Venice was my greatest, “Am I actually here moment!?” Being one of those cities you grow up hearing so much of, and being one of Europe’s most treasured travel destinations, it was surreal. But I found, I didn’t know as much about Venice as I had thought.

My trip had a not so glamorous start. I took a Euroline bus from Grenoble to Venice. I had to do this because last minute plane and train tickets were far too expensive and because my friends had not actually decided on places they wanted to visit until a week before arriving, I had to go with the most affordable option. For what I paid, it was not a terrible experience. I got on at 1am in the Grenoble bus parking lot, located next to the Gare. I found it easy enough to find because I figured I was in the right place where I saw everyone huddled under a roof away from the rain. We rode through France to the Italian border, braving snowstorms (it got pretty scary at one point near Torino and I’m sure we should not have been on the roads), braving a 6am bus transfer in Milan (no signage, no direction no posted schedules, that was great) and finally getting to Venice, a few hours before scheduled too, fabulous. After navigating the boat transit system, tired, hungry and much in need of a shower I found the hostel and waited for my friends to arrive later in the evening on their train.

We had a pretty late start both days in Venice, even missing the 3.50 euro breakfast the first day. I’m not upset about it though. Our hostel didn’t feel anything like a hostel room considering it was the 3 of us in the one room. It was the comfiest bed I’ve slept in my whole time in Europe so far and the view of the canal was unbeatable. Opening up our window to the fresh air coming off the canals felt like such a luxury.  When we did manage to get out of bed and ready for the day we walked, and walked and walked. There are shops after shops and even more vendors lining the streets of Venice, and everything was so beautiful. I went a little crazy over the Murano glass buying two glass bead bracelets and a ring, my friend also succumbed to an addiction and bought numerous masks, they were beautiful though. And shopping of course works up an appetite, which is even more money. You see how things add up in this city. Venice was working up to its notoriety as the most expensive city in Italy. There is no denying Venice is one beautiful city, and one with a highly fascinating history. Its reign as one of Europe’s most powerful ports to its decline, and now the ever constant talk about the city sinking (it’s not actually), although Venice at high-tide is something quite spectacular to see I’m told. I’m a walker, so I love a good walk, content with people watching and taking in my surroundings, but for everyone, that’s what Venice does. A walk in Venice will draw you in further and further into the city through a tiny alleyway barely big enough to stand side by side another person, lined with little storefronts, bridge over bridge, aged through the centuries and through open fish and produce markets with Venetians greeting friends with ciaos picking up their evenings meal. Amongst all the shops, restaurants and hotels to support the tourism, it’s easy to forget Venice is home for many, and actually is much more like a small town than a international city.

In fact, we tried to go out at night. The most nightlife was happening in our hostel. It’s obvious now this city is not made for the broke, wandering youth. Most storefronts closed down by 8 and the cluster of bars we found closed down right at 2, not unsurprisingly though, we were the only ones there besides the groups of venetian youth having a smoke in the outdoor seating. The next night was spent drinking Italian beers bought from the corner store and playing cards in the hostel. We did however get to walk through St. Marks square without a single other soul in sight, which was pretty incredible considering how crowded it is in the daylight.

Day two of Venice was more walking, shopping, gelato and cappuccinos. I also had what felt like my first authentic Italian meal, a pretty darn delicious eggplant parmesan. But mostly, walking, shopping and gelato.  We did happen to stumble upon a textile museum tucked away in a side street where I learned for the first time, Venice was in the 17th century the worlds source of perfumes.  For the adventurous, it can get pretty boring, not to mention expensive.

I’m glad we parted Venice when we did, but I was also sorry to say goodbye. Image

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It’s been three months abroad and I’ve begun missing all things Canadiana. CBC Radio, Sunday brunch in the city, double double’s, tobogganing, all of it. Maybe it was spending my first Christmas apart from my family, spending a week and a half with my childhood best friends who both remind me dearly of home, or feeling like I missed out on toughing out the ice storm with the rest of Toronto. I’ve just listened to my Canadian playlist 3 times now and am massively craving a hot plate of poutine.

A Weekend in Paris

La Ville-Lumière
The City of Love
Over-rated
The Quintessential European Experience.. 

I’ve heard many things about Paris, as I’m sure you have. This past weekend I finally carried out my childhood dream of visiting the French capital. We had been drawn to Paris this particular weekend because Canadian indie-rock band, Arcade Fire was to play a show the Friday night, and not wanting to waste an opportunity to see Paris we stayed for the weekend.

I Almost missed the show because of a tree. For god knows what reason, some tree had caused mass chaos and blocked the rails from Grenoble to Paris. I was supposed to make an afternoon train but after Sarah, the friend travelling with me, called me to let me know her morning train was being rerouted through Valence (and adding a couple hours to her journey) I decided right then I needed to make that morning train as well if we wanted to make it to the show on time. I threw everything I might need for the weekend in a bag (hadn’t packed at this time yet), did a lot of running and wore a permanent bitch face for the entire duration of my bus ride because of the damn construction in Grenoble slowing the bus down. Managed to coordinate with Sarah to hold my spot in the chaotic line of travellers attempting to switch tickets while I hustled to the train station. It was a photo finish but we got on the connection bus right on time, only to make a packed train in Valence in which I had no assigned seat and Sarah’s was occupied so we sat at the bar for the entire nearly 3 hour ride, classy. I probably should have been fined if my ticket got checked as I didn’t actually switch my ticket. I swear I’d kill it on the Amazing Race.

On time, we made it to Pavillion Baltard. The show was incredible. The fact that we got to see a grammy award winning band in a small Parisian venue for just around 50 euro was incredible, the awesome show they put on just made it that much more special (and the dress code that nearly everyone in one way or another respected, that everyone be in disguises was pretty cool). Win opened the show with a few raw, stripped lines of my body is a cage from the balcony above the crowd  that had gathered around the main stage. Coming down from the balcony he joined the rest of his bandmates (including his amazing, and adorable wife, Regine). They played the majority of Reflektor with a few fan favourites inbetween such as Wake Up, Neighbourhood #3, Haiti and Sprawl II. This is a band with killer stage presence and an amazing set list of danceable rock songs. By far the greatest dance party I’ve ever been too. And even AFTER the band had stopped, the venue stayed open an extra hour for us to hang out and dance, Win had actually been DJing in disguise alongside the bands touring DJ and joined us on the dancefloor. The show had us on a high for the rest of the weekend.

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Over whelming selection at Ladurée, but I knew what I was doing. I know my sweets.

Saturday & Sunday were taken pretty leisurely which I felt was in true Parisian style. Because it was my first time in Paris we did the landmark attractions: Eiffel Tower, Arc-de-Triomphe and of course some window shopping along Champs-Élysées with a stop in Ladurée to pick up some macaroons and gawk at the rest of the delicious goodies.It was a picture perfect day as far as weather was concerned and these exhausted two girls were met with a warm meal and movie night when returning home, courtesy of our couchsurfing hosts. Sunday morning was spent at the catacombs, a fascinating little walk underground through the Parisian ossuary and before catching the train home wrapped up with a mission to find the steps Owen Wilson sat on in Midnight in Paris and Shakespeare & Co.,  a bookstore in which the original was an old haunt of Hemingway and other celebrated writers of the 20’s.

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In the catacombs, Sarah snapped this fantastic photo 

Back in Grenoble, the week was relatively uneventful. Between classes, missions to do laundry at the laundry mat and grocery shopping as frequently as I have to because I have no fridge.. there’s not much time left for much else. Although the Christmas Market opened, and I had my very first glass of Chocolat Chaud Vert, a local concoction of Hot Chocolate and the notorious chartreuse- a liquor made from wildflowers originally used as medicine by the monks. Everything is quite magical in this Alps city this time of year, from the sparkling Christmas lights that adorn the streets to the bustle in the Christmas market. This weekend, Sarah and I managed to pull off a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for our friends as a “cultural exchange” but mostly as an excuse to stray from the French diets we’ve all been on and have something a little more like home. Making Thanksgiving dinner is a feat even back home but making it in France with unequipped kitchens and only what’s available in French supermarkets gets even trickier. However, like the superheros we are, we made it happen, everything from scratch except the rotessire chicken from Carrefour in lieu of a turkey- they don’t eat turkey here so it would have been expensive and hard to find AND I had to work all day Friday so no time to cook that. It was soo worth the trouble of cooking to bring our new friends together and recognize how thankful we are to have moments like this in Grenoble.

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So thankful for new friends 🙂

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