Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stillness in San Francisco

Impossible you may say...I say nay.

I found stillness today at approximately 5:24pm. Maybe it was only for me and everyone else was frenzied and buzzing, but I got a bit ahead of my work load before I left. I walked outside and looked out toward the piers and the sky was blue and the weather was warm. There wasn't even a breeze. Everything was still, even my mind felt quiet.

Usually I pop my ipod in and walk briskly toward the metro, with the requisite (pardon my french) don't fuck with me face. But today, I decided to stroll. I even smiled at a few passersby.

There's a little piece of green on my way to Bart so I stopped at the park, sat down and took in the sights. The architecture by the Embarcadero is far from that which I so enjoyed in Paris, but the buildings are rather massive, so it can put some things in perspective if you let it.

I'm attributing my peaceful stroll to the weather. Something in the sun can really put you at peace. I'm usually in such a rush that I don't realize it. Generally, I don't even have anything to rush towards, but I clip along the path, weaving and dodging to cut down the travel time.

Today, however the world was still for a moment and I wasn't about to take it for granted.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My photo is famous!

Some of my photos of France are uploaded to Flickr, and apparently a guided tour company was scrolling through my pictures and found one of Versailles that they chose to highlight in their newsletter. Coooooool. There now America, you really do have to be careful that whatever you share in this internet universe, you are willing to have it seen by anyone. Good thing my life is an open book. But then, if you are reading my blog, then you already knew that ;-)

For your viewing pleasure:
Hi Julie,

I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released eighth edition of our Schmap Paris Guide:


Monday, July 20, 2009

Blog overhaul

Thank you to everyone who read my blog while I was away in Paris. It gave me validation to know that my words were being read by friends and loved ones. It also helped me feel connected to home.

Now that I'm back in my hometown of Portola Valley, I've heard it mentioned on a few occasions that my blog is missed and that I might think about continuing to write. I wondered if I should begin a new blog, under a new title (since the subject matter would inevitably be different), or if I should continue writing under, as Jon puts it, the winner of the longest blog title in the history of blogging. hmmm, quite the conundrum.

For now, I think I'll stick with this blog space. I will forever like Paris in the Springtime, and it still highlights an interest of mine and the determination I have for attaining my dreams. It fits.

The over sized photo in the description space is a picture of the sunset I took from my backyard in Santa Barbara. Our house in the middle of DP was perhaps lacking in cleanliness and maybe not the most adorable, but the backyard definitely made up for anything the house did not boast. Another piece of my history that I'll be recounting here, as well as my present experiences and future goals and aspirations.

Read at your own leisure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Winding down

Date: May 29

I fly home on Tuesday and, as much as I can’t believe how time has flown, I feel like I’ve taken advantage of my time here, getting to know the city and feeling settled. Now I’m ready to move to another big city, hopefully San Francisco by Christmas, to see feel what it’s like to be settled there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little blog of Paris in the springtime. My experience is similar to many, but unique to me. I feel so blessed to have had this amazing opportunity. It proves that opportunities can be discovered if you are open to them, and that anything is possible if you are determined enough to go through with it.

A good introduction to Paris

Kristina’s visit. Mid-May 2009

Kristina is my sister-in-law. Well, my sister-in-law’s little sister. So we figure that makes us sisters-in-law. It works for us.

She is in Sweden right now visiting her dad, so it was the perfect time for her to jump down and get a nice introduction to Paris. Let’s call Kristina’s time in Paris the greatest almost experience. Although we were blessed with sunny skies during her trip (well at least until that storm hit the day before she left), some of our plans missed the mark on a few occasions...but, we went with it!

Stina arrived on a Thursday and I picked her up and got her home before I had to go out to work. Friday we did a tour of Paris, hitting the main attractions, like the Arc de Triumph, Champs Elysee, Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur and the Bastille, before I sent her home on a bus and went off to work again (where I played Cat and Mouse with the kids…for some reason I am always the cat in this scenario). Friday night we attempted to go out with Darcy and some of her friends…got all done up…found Darcy’s friends house…then, we all got on the metro to take a ride. Which is pretty much all we did because no one actually knew where the club they wanted to go to was. So we rode the metro, walked around for a bit and then took a taxi home. It wasn’t exactly the ‘Paris by night’ that I was looking to show Stina but hey it was another part of town at least.

Saturday we had planned to go to Giverny to see Monet’s house and infamous gardens. As I don’t have internet at my house, we had to guess when the train would leave for Giverny. Unfortunately, we guessed 10 minutes too late and we didn’t get the train we would have liked, so we had to wait. While we waited though, we hopped over to a Café for brunch. Stina got to try her first Croque Monsieur, though, so perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.

The train doesn’t go all the way through Giverny (it is much too picturesque a town to allow trains to disrupt its peacefulness), so you have to take a shuttle from the train station which turned out to be a nice little ride through a typical French village. Fairly storybook, I might add. Now here’s a trick for anyone planning to travel to Giverny to see the famous gardens. When you get to the end of the road, turn right. Signage in Giverny is severly lacking. Stina followed the group and turned left. We got to the museum which displays Monet’s work chronologically, which is fascinating to see the progression of his work throughout his life, especially towards the end of his life when he didn’t even cover the full canvas. Anyway, we walked out of the museum, missed a sign that said Monet’s foundation (read: house, but how were we supposed to know that?!?), and turned left again, because there were pretty flowers and we THOUGHT we were walking into into his gardens. When we realized that this was too small to be the actual gardens, we consulted a sign (which did not mention Monet’s house again) and decided that we might journey up the street to see his grave site. It was a rather nice walk up through the town of Giverny. We passed a hostel that Renoir, Degas and other famous painters stayed at while they visited with Monet and became inspired by his gardens. We passed the most charming bed and breakfast with an amazing view of rolling hills and flowers. Someone had turned their front yard into a sand sculpture area, with giant sculptures of a boat voyage, the last supper and Joan of Arc. His sign (which directly targeted English speaking tourists) said “I’m no millionaire, if you snap a photo, leave a piece). So I did.

Monet’s grave site is shared with his family and covered by planted flowers. Very beautiful. Just a few steps down from Monet’s grave site sits a tribute to seven British soldiers whose plane crashed nearby during WWII (I believe). They were protecting the town of Giverny when they were shot down and the citizens are very grateful for their sacrifice.

Ok enough is enough, it’s 3 o’clock and we need to find this house, so we walk back to the museum and ask the helpful sales clerk in the gift shop where his house is.
“Oh just out this door and a few kilometers to the left.” Hmm, we pass the area where we entered and finally see a mass of people who knew to turn right at the split in the road. The line is verrrrrrry long. Perhaps it’s just for the house. Time is getting tight, so maybe we should walk around to the back of the house to just see the gardens, surely they don’t make you pay for that.

I guess they do.

By this time we had about an hour and a half until our train would arrive and we still had to take the shuttle back into town. As adorable as that bed and breakfast was, the price to stay the night wasn’t exactly in our budget. We decided to walk around and try to peek in to see as much as we could of the gardens and found some other very serene areas. The brook was especially peaceful and it was so clear we could see to the bottom. Finally we said goodbye to Giverny and went back into town. While we waited for the train to come we stopped at a little restaurant for a hot chocolate, a coke and some fries to tide us over until dinner. It happened that sitting for a bit helped us in the long run because when the train arrived, so did that entire mass of people we had seen at the entrance to Monet’s house, and they all wanted to get on our train. Bummer. We tried to push our way forward, but unfortunately it was standing room only in the cabin between the trains. Talk about a tight squeeze!

We ate in and decided to go see Night at the Museum 2 at the theater. Maybe it was our day, or maybe it’s the amount of comedian’s in that movie but it was really funny! The Frechies found the jokes about Napoleon to be pretty funny, but some things just don’t translate, so Kristina and I were generally the only two laughing in the whole theater. It was a fun experience.

I had to work Sunday morning, so while I took the kids to a merry-go-round in the Tuileries garden, Kristina went to a friend’s for quality conversation, quality internet time and quality grub. We reconvened that evening and took a boat tour of the Seine. Taking a tour on the Bateaux Mouches is a great way to see the many of the most popular monuments from your seat on the Seine. It also made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve been swimming! It was so hot and the water looked so refreshing. Don’t worry. I didn’t get any crazy ideas because the Seine is DIRTY!

After our tour we walked for an eternity and grabbed pizza at a somewhat Italian spot in the Latin Quarter. Italian or not, my Margarita (I dunno if I spelled that correctly) pizza was scrumptious!

Monday, we took a much anticipated tour of the Louvre (in English!) We spent the morning sipping on our Café Cremes and pains au chocolats, and taking a stroll through the Tuileries gardens…it was another HOT day in Paris-dise.

The tour of the Louvre was very interesting. It began at the beginning, literally. We went down to the foundation to see remnants of the original castle that used to stand in the place of the Louvre. Our tour guide was a cute little French woman. She led us up to Venus de Milo and then onto Winged Victory. I learned that all the marble statues we see today were painted back in the day. It makes perfect sense to me now, but I never thought about it. I just assumed they were always white. We went to Mona Lisa (of course) and I learned interesting information about the Wedding Feast at Cana...apparently there has been turmoil over the repainting of one of the men in the forefront of the painting. His coat used to be painted red, which brought out the oranges and yellows in the tableau, but it was repainted green during its renovation, so an observer notices the blues first now. Such a minor detail, but I guess it is a major point of contention in the art world.

We saw another painting of David and Goliath which was painted on both sides by the artist in order to depict the superiority of painting to sculpture. Painters and Sculptures have been feuding about this for centuries, just like Giants versus Dodgers, proving that nothing much changes over the years, except the topic. I learned a few interesting tidbits about one of my favorites…the Coronation of Empress Josephine. Mostly it related to painter himself. You can see him and his family in the background. As well as a Napoleon’s mother, who wasn’t actually at the coronation because in general, she wasn’t on the same page as her son. Napoleon asked the painter to put her in the center of the painting so that the world would always think she supported him. I guess she lost that battle. I knew this little fact but I never knew which person she was in the painting. Now I know.

Hopefully, I haven’t bored you too much with the little bits I found interesting from the tour, I have a few more but I think I better stop before you stop reading.

I took Kristina over to the Palais Royale to get a glimpse of my ‘office’. We rested for a bit on a bench and watched a game of rolling balls, before I had to go to work. After work, I stopped for a baguette and a bottle of wine to share as we sat on the Seine and took in the atmosphere. It was quite a Parisian evening.

That night the storm hit and we hoped that it would pass by morning so that we could go up the Eiffel Tower. We were in luck…sort of. We got up early so that we could get to the tower at opening, and beat the lines. As hot as it had been all weekend, it was that COLD. We froze as the icy wind hit us on the second story waiting for the elevator to the top. It was all worth it though. Part of the top is inside, so we were able to defrost just before we descended and the rain decided to join us again. Why hadn’t I thought to bring my umbrella after my little experience the night before? We ran to the bus stop and hopped on but we were very wet by the time we got to my apartment. Luckily, we ran into my neighbor on the way and she threw Kristina’s clothes into the dryer so that she wouldn’t have to sit on the plane back to Stockholm in wet clothes. We went down to the Tobac and Kristina had one last Café Crème and Croque Monsieur before her flight.

Since then the weather has been rather unpredictable, but it seems to be happy with warm this weekend. I hope it holds out because this is how I want to remember Paris. Sunny, warm, and perfect!

Date I would have liked to have posted this: May 25, 2009

So I’m sitting in a phone booth telling Mom about how hot and humid this weekend was in Paris. When all of a sudden, I see a bright flash of light and think, ‘hmm…I wonder what special activities they are having at the Eiffel Tower tonight?’ I little while later I disregard a low rumble as I continue my conversation with my mom.

Then the light flashed again and I remembered that my neighbor told me there would be a storm this evening. At the time I had ignored it because it was difficult for me to believe that weather as bright, sunny and warm as it was that day, could turn into a storm. Surely the weatherman was wrong. After all, he had been wrong all weekend when he had predicted clouds and rain. This flash, however, was followed closely by a very LOUD rumble. Thinking back to my elementary school science classes I remembered something about how the time between a lightening flash and the thunder signified how far away the lightening touched down. Uh oh. If my calculations were right, it hit just outside of Paris. And I was standing in a metal phone booth, with the phone to my ear. By the time it took me to turn around and look towards my apartment the clouds broke and the rain poured free. This storm did not begin with a light sprinkle. Torrential downpour would be more accurate. Not to mention the wind that had suddenly kicked up. Meanwhile mom is on the other end, wondering what the background noise she heard was. And then the lightening hit again. And the thunder right behind.

“Mom,” I said, “it’s raining, I think I better get inside.” Following a quick good-bye, I ran from the phone booth to my front door and tapped the code to my building as fast as possible, which wasn’t fast enough. I was soaked.

The rain continued on and off throughout the night. I can’t remember ever experiencing a storm that hit as fast or as furiously as this storm hit. The lightening looked fake but it lit up the entire sky, and the wind was warm. Very strange. Luckily Kristina was visiting at the time, so I didn’t have to sit through the storm by myself. We got cozy and cracked out our James Patterson books, to take our mind off the rain.

Which leads me to my next blog…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paris...a la mode!

Through my internship I learned about Les Nuits des Musees, a night in which many museums stay open late and offer special previews, lectures, dances, and in the case which interested me the most…a fashion show!

I have been to two fashion shows in my life: The first was a Notre Dame High School fashion show when I was 12 and my sister participated as a model, and the second was a St. Pius elementary school fundraiser where my mom took the runway by storm (she took a few hints from America’s Next Top Model and looked great!) So that sums it up. Although I watch ANTM religiously and secretly hope that Tim Gunn will spot me in a crowd and ask me to be a guest model on Project Runway, I have never seen a professional fashion show. Last Saturday brought me as close to New York during Fashion Week, as I have ever been! The Hungarian Fashion Institute of Paris held a free fashion show for La Nuit des Musees in which, for the first hour, the students had the opportunity to showcase their work, and then after a pause for Hungarian wine tasting the professionals held a separate show in four sets. Ok, ok, so maybe it’s not New York during Fashion Week, but hey, it’s a fashion show in Paris! I was stoked!

The French are big on forming lines and waiting your turn, in the grocery store, at the taxi stand, at the check out counter of a department store, for the toilettes, to get on the bus, you name it. If you unknowingly walk directly up to the front you will get a very abrupt “Attention!” Followed by the most heinous scowl that person can conjure up, until you politely “Pardon” yourself and step back. Although, I must say that they are also very sneaky about jumping the line when at all possible, so stay on your toes! That said, this idea of a line completely goes out the window when the word “Avancez” is uttered. At this point, WATCH YOUR BACK!

It should be noted here that the Hungarian Institute of Fashion in Paris did not think to form a line for their professional fashion show, and the result was what I would imagine a rave to be like (without the music). As Darcy, her friend Laura, and I waited for the gentleman on the stairs to finish allowing those with invitations to enter we slowly began to feel the slight pressure at our backs as those soles behind us inched forward. This gentleman was not in the show, so I assume this was his fifteen minutes (more like 45 minutes) of fame. He savored his place on the stairs, as we all looked up to him, waiting for the magic words he wasn’t saying.

More waiting, the pressure at my back is only slight.

More waiting, the woman that was behind me is now beside me. I wish I had a chair.

More waiting, that woman is now in front of me…and where did that group come from?

More waiting, the air is beginning to get tight and I am feeling a little faint, please let us in soon!
Now I’m being pushing up against the back of the guy in front of me (um excuse me sir, did you forget your deodorant this morning?)

Close quarters…need fresh air…or an air freshener…must get away from guy in front of me….what is the gentleman on the stairs waiting for?

Finally: “Pas d’invitations? D’accord, avancez!”

Oh shit.

Laura somehow got ahead of Darcy and me and to the stairs, which was good because she ran upstairs and claimed the seats where we had left our coats from the previous student fashion show. Without her, those coats would surely have been shoved to the floor and we would have been standing for the next hour.

Wearing high heels was a bad idea, even if I did want to be fashionable at the fashion show. It is much more difficult to keep your balance when you’re being shoved from three different directions (forward was unfortunately not one of the directions or I might have gone with it) and wearing heels. Finally, I got separated from Darcy, but to the stairs, and freedom! Luckily, Darcy was just behind me in the next group that was let through.

As I passed another gentleman at the entrance to the fashion show, who bowed his head slightly as he greeted me, I turned into the bright lights and walked down the runway to my seat next to Laura. There it went my fifteen seconds of fame (if you can call it that). Had the cameras been on, the heels would have been a good idea after all…hey, I can always pretend right?!?

Watching the show was completely worth all the waiting and shoving! There were a few very different styles, which I cannot imagine to ever be worn off the catwalk. There were a few which I might have recommended to be accompanied by a bra, or bandeau of some sort, but then I remembered I was in Paris and nudity is much less controversial here. Then there were the outfits and dresses for which I would like to have a magic wand to zap them into my closet. I wonder what it would be like to have an endless selection of outfits in your closet. Maybe you could have a magic trunk overflowing with shoes, belts, purses, and every accessory ever created. Would you still rummage around and think that you have nothing pertinent to wear? Or maybe you would always end up wearing very simple things because there would be too much to choose from. No you would probably just always look FABULOUS! *Snap!* Sorry I was just dreaming there for a moment.

Now it’s possible that you are reading this and thinking, “Wow, Julie has turned into a materialistic snob during her three months stay in Paris.” You may be correct, although I have always liked to play dress up, ever since I was little and my friend Becky and I would open up a suitcase of her aunts’ old evening gowns, transporting us into another era. In my dreams, Clueless is my stage and I am electronically scouring Cher’s closet for the cutest new style. My feet however (which happen at the moment to be housed in a $15 pair of white tennies from H&M), are firmly planted on the ground and you might even say that I am “tight” with money. I assert that I have not done very much shopping during my stay in Paris and my credit card is safely stored deep in my wallet where the department stores and street markets cannot find them. If it’s possible, I am actually under budget (though I fear that by posting this, I will somehow enrage the gods responsible for Murphy’s Law and come home with empty pockets). Perhaps, instead of calling it materialistic, I will re-classify myself as a connoisseur of fine (read: pretty) articles within the fashion industry. I look, albeit with envy, but don’t touch 

That evening was nicely rounded out by a delicious crepe with goat cheese, French ham (which for some reason, just does not taste like the ham you find in the states) and salad. We also shared a chocolate, banana, and Chantilly crème crepe for dessert…yum!!!

Edith, where are you?

After visiting a friend in the eleventh district, I had some time before work so I decided to take a stroll and see where my promenade would lead me. I stopped for lunch at the Cat Cafe, mainly because I loved the name (the ravioli's weren't bad, the wine was watered down, but the chocolate fondue was very tasty!) Across the street from Cat Cafe is the infamous Pere Lachaise Cemetery...home to Jim Morrison, Proust, Edith Piaf among other noteworthy figures. I never made it to this cemetery when I studied here, so it has been on my list of things to see while in Paris. Ever since I watched the movie that chronicled Edith Piaf's life, I've been wanting to pay homage to her.

As I was walking up the steps toward the monument in the center of the cemetery, I paused at a bench to take everything in (Also I had just climbed one too many steps and I needed to sit and inhale air). A man was sitting on a bench next to me and he was crying. It struck me that Pere Lachaise was a destination for me, but for him, it was sadly an inevitable visit that it seems he would have liked to put off a bit longer. Many cemeteries in Paris are listed in the tourist books, so it is easy to think that those interred there have long since passed on, but for many French visitors, this is the final resting place of their very near loved ones.

I forgot about the famous people for awhile and just wandered through the tombs for a bit, looking at the family names on the gravestones and their descriptions. Eventually I saw a group of people gathered around one site in particular and I wondered if it was a funeral, it turned out I found Jim Morrison's grave. It was rather uneventful, and looks precisely like the others. At this point, I remembered my inclination to visit Edith Piaf's grave, but I searched and never found it. The space on the map doesn't correspond to her grave site. There is a large stone post where she is supposed to be buried. Oh well, some things are best left to mystery I suppose. It was an interesting way to spend a crisp afternoon. In peace and contemplation.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mon Anniversaire

I like the idea of the French word for Birthday. Happy anniversary of your birth!

Darcy invited me over to her place for dinner and a delicious dessert after which we went over to a pub/club called Coolin to meet up with some friends for drinks and dancing. Is that not the most awesome name for such an establishment?

I also treated myself to a little shopping, don't worry, I didn't go overboard, just one cute outfit. I gotta say, I am extremely proud of (and also a little surprised by)my self control in the shopping department. It's not easy, when you walk by a shoe store every other window on your way to the gorcery store, but I only look...and sometimes I go inside for a better look, but then I just say "Bonjour" to the sales person who looks like they might pounce on me for a sale, and slowly back away. The words "Prix Shoc!" (read "shocking price!") generally grabs my attention but I do not touch, because French sales people can make you think that a banana peal would make a fabulous hat. I may not know many things in the fashion department but I do know that fruit does not belong on your head! Anyway, they don't generally pounce on you until you touch the garment, so keep your hands to yourself unless you want to get out your wallet!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The wonder of a library

Date: 4/27/08
I went to a neighborhood library with my computer the other day in search of internet access zones. Unfortunately, although at this point I'm not even surprised at the irony, the internet WiFi was down. Ugh. I walked around a bit and decided to sit and read the new Jane Austen book, Sense and Sensibility (which I LOVED!) At one point, I looked up to find the girl across from me dozing over her enormous research book...ahh memories of the good 'ole days spent snoozing in the library at UCSB. It donned on me that this was the first time that I had been in a library without the stress of a paper/report/test/project looming over my head like a dark, heavy cloud preparing to unleash the wrath of the storm rumbling within. It was quite a serene experience. Who knew libraries could be so peaceful and relaxing?

The Flowers are a bloomin' in Paris!

Date: 4/25/09

Mom made it to Paris for the sunniest week I’ve seen in Paris thus far. It was so great to have her here and we walked EVERYWHERE so I wasn’t even feeling bad about the chocolate mousse we ate with dinner almost every night! Luckily the Fromont children were still on vacation and I only had to work at my internship twice so that left a lot of time for mom and I to do some exploring. As busy as we were, it didn’t feel at all rushed because she came to visit Paris (and me) when I was studying here two years ago, so we didn’t feel the need to see every tourist attraction, instead we just meandered through the streets and stopped where something grabbed our interest.

She arrived on a Saturday morning and while she rested, I went to the market to buy us some fruit for breakfast. I can’t remember how our promenade began but eventually we were at the Place de la Concord in the center of Paris and visiting the Madeline Church. We continued our walk to the Opera Garnier, where we were going to take a tour, but we had just missed the cut off. It did rain on Saturday, so we popped into the Galleries Lafayette to feel the power of French fashion first hand and view the beautiful stained glass domed ceiling. After a quick Café Crème, we continued and discovered the Trinity Church. It is under some construction but still a beauty. Mom also got a kick (or maybe that’s not the right word to use in relation to a Church) out of the Chapel of Saint Rita (the namesake of a friend of hers). As we continued we realized that we weren’t far from Montmartre and her favorite monument in Paris, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart. So on we walked, and then we were climbing (because the Sacré Coeur is at the top of a very steep hill in Montmartre).

Oops! All of sudden, we found ourselves in the red light district and quite a few men wanted us to come inside and see a different part of Paris! Well at least we got to see the Moulin Rouge. We continued our ascent through Montmartre and got to the Sacré Coeur around dinner time, so we popped into one of the restaurants at the Artist’s Square for some yummy French grub. Not a bad start to Mom’s trip.

The next morning we went to the American Cathedral for church. It is very beautiful and of course, the services were in English. Mom and I realized that it wasn’t actually a Catholic Cathedral about half way through when a woman reverend gave the sermon. Mom thought it was just European but I knew something was up. Welp, Episcopal services aren’t THAT different from Catholic services, and they had a baptism, so we got to see babies! I figure we’re all praying to the same God, we are just going about it a little differently.

One thing mom really wanted to see this trip was Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon (a much smaller home behind the main chateau) and Hamlets at Versailles, so after church we made our way in that direction. Since it was Sunday, they also had music playing in the gardens and a water show with the many fountains. The music helps you feel somewhat transported in time. Mom got a real kick out of the Hamlets too! I have videos of the hamlets and the end of the water show, so I’ll try to get that up on Flickr, if I can ever get an internet connection on my computer for more than 20 minutes.

On our return to Paris, the weather was chilly but clear so we had a little snack of chocolate and banana crepes and made our way up the Eiffel Tower! It just never gets old to look out over Paris and see all the monuments embedded into the skyline of the neighborhoods.

Another good day, but boy were we tired.

Monday took me away from Mom to ICOM. It was an interesting day for me, as my boss was let go from her post, and mom spent her day with one of her walking tours of Paris, after which we retraced her steps so that I could see all the little nuances that I would never have known about otherwise. We stopped for a late afternoon glass of wine and plate of cheese, in a very French fashion, while we looked out over the street and did some people watching. There was a very friendly pup that came to visit us and mom got to see first hand the insanity of Parisian parking!

We decided to have a rest when we got back…rest is a bit of an understatement. It might also be dubbed the BIG sleep because we didn’t wake up til 9:30! We settled for eggs and potatoes for dinner and laughed that even in Paris we fall to old habits of breakfast for dinner. Also, Mom beat me in Scrabble after dinner…some things never change!

I spent Tuesday morning playing with the kids. Interestingly, their English was exorbitantly better than usual. If only I got to watch them in the morning, when they are fresh and not tired, more often!

Mom and I met up and travelled out to the Bois de Boulogne so that I could show her all the beautiful flowers I had discovered the week before. If only Dad could have been there to tell us what we were looking at, since that’s his specialty. Mom knew a good deal of the names of the flowers. My knowledge is near nil, but I think they all look pretty!

With our picnic in hand we strolled along the path and stopped at a bench to eat our sandwich and chocolate éclairs while we enjoyed the scenery. A peacock stalked us for a bit and I thought I was going to have to throw down! Luckily, he strutted his way to other unlikely victims and sweeter smelling goods, so mom and I could enjoy our delicious treats in peace.

Side note: Peacocks have a very strange call. It rather reminds me of the cry of Cosmo (that’s my cat). It’s quite noticeable at first and then it just gets on your nerves. The sound definitely does not match the beauty of their colorful tails.

Fearful that we would run into the scenario of the previous night after so much walking, we decided to stay out until dinner instead of heading back home. Though this was a good idea in theory, perhaps we would hit the Andy Warhol exhibit, except it was closed on Tuesdays. Ok, so perhaps we would go to the Musee D’Orsay and take in a few Impressionist paintings, nope that was closed too. Hmm, well it was only 7pm and rather early to dine in Paris, but whatever, haven’t the French heard of Early Bird specials? There must be plenty of restaurants near the Musee D’Orsay…oh those are all closed too? Is nothing open in Paris on Tuesdays?!?!?!

Finally we stumbled on a quaint Italian establishment (there were 7 of us in the joint for the entirety of our meal), and enjoyed a tasty pasta dish.

We took advantage of the ability to sleep in on Wednesday but made it down to the Street Market before it closed, so mom got to see all the vendors (fish, meat, clothing, toy, purse, jewelry, flower…they were all there). We each got a new French top, which we sported while we took in the flowers, a scoop of chocolate ice cream and the general sights in the alternate universe that is the Luxembourg Gardens on a sunny day. It really is to be experienced this alternate universe where nothing exists but pleasure in the company of others. Time has no meaning. Gentlemen bring their chess sets, playing cards, or Petanque balls to challenge each other in a game of wits and skill beneath the Chestnut trees. Children can enjoy one of many activities, be it, sailing miniature boats in the fountain, swinging around the large play structures, riding ponies, building sand castles, kicking around a soccer ball…you name it and it’s probably an activity within the gates of the Luxembourg gardens. The bee keepers were busy keeping their bees, lovers were entranced, some people were reading, others were drawing, a few snoozed in the sun, but most were just engaged in conversation with their companions. Truly, this place is like no other. How can you have a bad experience in a place which exudes such peace?

Eventually, we decided to see a bit of the city, so we took a stroll, similar to one that I wrote about earlier on this blog. We saw the Pantheon, La Sorbonne, La Musee de Cluny (think Roman vestiges), the skinny streets of the Latin Quarter, and finally Notre Dame Cathedral. We ended up in the Latin Quarter for dinner (pizza and calzones…we couldn’t seem to get away from the Italian influence!) One man had the sole post to call people into the restaurant, a Siren, of sorts, for Italian cuisine. Every so often he would clap his hands and say…rather sing, “Piiiiiiiizzzzzzzzza!” It worked on us anyway, and eventually he filled the restaurant. Once this task was completed, he cut out. People watching in the Latin Quarter offers some of the best in town during the evenings. It was such a lovely evening, I hated the idea of going underground to take the Metro home, so Mom and I took in a few street performances on our leisurely walk home along the Seine. It took us about an hour to get home because I didn’t realize how far we actually were from home…Mom is such a good sport!

I went to ICOM again on Thursday for part of the day, after which, Mom and I decided to trek back up (via metro) to Sacre Coeur to see the inside during the day. The sun sets against the stained glass windows so that it ignites the air with a red radiance which fills your soul with a warmth which I cannot fully express. It rises through a set of blue windows which I can only imagine begins the morning with a coolness likened to purity. Truly awesome.

For dinner we went to a café at La Place du Trocadero. Scrumptious steak, wonderful wine, decadent desserts and candid conversation…this dinner was a wonderful end to a wonderful week.

The taxi came to pick mom up the next morning at 7am. Must every goodbye be so abrupt? Thankfully, Mom’s travel home was much less stressful than Anne’s. I feel so blessed to have been joined first by my sister, then by my mom in Paris. They made for two amazing weeks (almost as if I’ve had two separate vacations within Paris with Annie and then Mom).

Mom must have packed the good weather in her suit case, because with her went the sun. It’s been warm and rainy…wainy, if that word doesn’t sound pleasant, it’s because it isn’t. Aw well, c’est la vie!

I find there is always something to look forward to in Paris, up next…my birthday! But how shall I celebrate??????

Sunday, April 26, 2009


London April 11-15, 2009

That title might look odd considering the fact that I only have three months in Paris, why would I leave for any time at all? Honestly, I needed a break and familiar faces and it worked out that the kids would be off to the countryside with their grandparents for a week and Europeans take the Monday after Easter off work so nobody was going to miss me until Thursday. Ere go…London!

So let’s set up the scene a bit:
Destination – London
Dates – April 11-15th
Reason – Vacation!
Mode of Transportation - Eurolines (Read: European Greyhound Bus – probably an entire blog in itself, I’ll try to recap below)
Housing – A room at Jimmy and Sarah’s pad, complete with my own set of keys (which I never figured out how to use correctly, good thing I never actually needed them).
Soundtrack – Goldfrapp, the song Oh La La, in particular (Introduced to me by Jimmy and Sarah, check it out!)
Menu for the weekend: Endless cups of tea, pints of beer and 5 star meals cooked by Jimmy himself…glory be!

For those of you who don’t know Jimmy and Sarah, allow me to offer an introduction. Jimmy took a year to travel around the world and landed in Santa Barbara for a time, with the lucky opportunity to share a room with my big brother, Jeff. He and Sarah have been out to visit California a few times since, most recently (I think) to be a part of Jeff and Nika’s wedding. Jimmy and Sarah just recently got married this January…Yay! Congratulations!!

We calculated and it seems I met Jimmy about ten years ago. So in my eyes, I was visiting family, the fantastic sights of London came as icing on the cake!

The trip:
I found out that I would be able to take such a trip about a week before I left so Eurorail seemed an appropriate mode of transportation, as the TGV train takes about 2 hours to go from Paris to London. Unfortunately the late notice meant that my ticket would cost almost 300 Euro. Planes were equally expensive, despite all my searching through cheap airfare websites, so the 70 Euro bus ticket seemed like a GREAT idea. Plus I thought it would be a nice way to view the countryside of France and Britain. So I woke up and took the metro out to the Euroline station, accompanied by one mother and her child and another traveler who continued his slumber until he reached his destination…IT WAS EARLY. At the station I wandered aimlessly, ticket in hand, around the various busses for someone to tell me where to go, until I finally decided the long line at the bottom was probably my best bet to get any information. Luckily, I stood behind a few people speaking English and overheard that I needed to check in here, in this long line, before I get to the bus or they won’t let me on. Good, now I know I’m in the right place. I peeped my head into their conversation to double check and met a British couple, who have apparently frequented this journey many times, and a girl about my age who was actually from Venezuela but went to college in California, so her English was impeccable. We stuck together and got great seats at the front of the bus, 180 degree view for the entirety of the trip! It was nice to have a travel companion and we talked most of the trip away. Our driver was quite a character, with his tight black pants and goofy smile. I’m guessing this was his first trip because we made quite a few circles throughout the journey. Despite getting lost, we only arrived about 45 minutes late.

Although we were on a highway, I felt like I was looking through a time capsule at some of the villages we passed. Also, I got a pretty good kick out of the fact that every highway sign said we were on our way to Calais (just like in The Three Musketeers!!) Five hours (or so) into the journey we came to immigration and everyone on the bus had to get off, and take our bags through the offices. The guy really grilled me! I had no trouble getting into France, and then I let my guard down and all of a sudden, I needed to tell him what I was doing, who I was staying with, my weekly budgeted allowance, how I made that money…I was really sweating, but at least I could tell him in all honesty, that I was just visiting Great Britain. Had I been grilled like that on my way into France, I might have reddened under the pressure.

I’m not even sure how to describe the next step of my journey, but it includes a giant bus travelling underwater, so you might understand why it would be difficult. Our driver drove us into what I thought was a tunnel, but in reality it was a box. On we go and then all of the doors close around us and the box begins to move. From what I can imagine, the box is on a train and we are travelling in a tunnel (I assume) through the Chunnel. Claustrophobia aside, my thoughts went to the many sea creatures just outside, ready and willing to eat me at a moments notice, though I supposed the water would drown me first. Ok, so I’m embellishing a little bit. I wasn’t that scared and it only took about 20 minutes and then the doors opened to dry land and we drove off, on our merry way to London. Still, I think I would have preferred the ferry. (I’ll try to post pictures on flickr to better equip my storytelling.)

Day one (Saturday)
I arrive in London at the Victoria Bus Station and navigate my way through the Tube to Limehouse, where Sarah meets me to walk me to their place. A recap of their wedding and my stay in Paris and family news ensues followed by the necessity for me to shower off the grime of a seven hour windowless bus ride which I shared with 50 other people. Sarah had a cup of tea waiting for me when I finished  This trips first cup of tea in London, and certainly not the last! That evening we went to an Argentinean Steakhouse for delicious steak, and all kinds of fun side dishes. YUM!

Day Two (Sunday)
Sunday began with breakfast at a locals spot by Columbia Road. Can’t tell you the name, because I’m not sure there was one. It was an outside barbeque where they made egg sandwiches and coffee. Now I’m sure you Yanks are picturing exactly what I would have pictured by this: frozen bacon strips from those yellow Oscar Meyer packages, but no. These were real sausage links and we enjoyed the sandwiches and coffee while sitting on the curb, listening to a band perform in the street. I was impressed. And this was an average Sunday morning for Jimmy and Sarah. Next we sauntered over to Columbia Road for a flower market. Crowd doesn’t begin to describe the mass of people standing corner to corner admiring the endless types of flowers, as the vendors shout “Let your eyes be your guide” and “5 pounds here, what a deal!” to get you to shop at their stall. Jimmy said it wasn’t even as busy as it usually is because of Easter Sunday, but I can’t imagine how one more person could have fit on that street. Still, I saw some beautiful flowers. Jimmy took my picture by one of those black British taxis and we were on our way for a driving tour of South East London (side note – the Brits call speed bumps Sleeping Policemen, because they lay in the road and keep you from speeding. I got a kick out of it so I’m sharing it here to see if it’ll catch!)

We went out to the flood gates (which I can’t remember the name of) but they are quite an architectural art form. London is built low so they have a constant worry about flooding. Again, I’ll try to post a picture soon. On our way I got to catch a glimpse of the concert venue which looks like a an alien’s cap. London is expecting Michael Jackson to perform for a packed stadium on a 20 (or is it 50?) day tour. After this stop we went over to Canary Wharf for the purpose of going to the grocery store, but I’m just glad I got to see it, because there is a great little park outside the massive bank building, which if I remember correctly is the tallest building in London. Sarah and I were going to walk around the mall while Jimmy did the grocery shopping for a Roast Chicken dinner, but everything was closed on account of it being Easter Sunday. We tried a few other stores, one out in Greenwich, and when none of those were open, we stopped at the local, smaller store and settled on, oh just pork chops with roasted potatoes, with a type of sweet onions in a homemade white sauce (that description does not do it close to justice, my apologies Jimmy). It was just something Jimmy whipped up, my mouth is salivating just thinking about how delicious it was. That evening we took a red double decker bus out to a little pub in the middle of a green field. It was built around the time that Elizabeth I was queen, is housed by a conglomeration of old and young, and whose lighting can best be described as yellow. Jimmy says it’s a weird lighting when you enter, but when you leave, it’s like you’re leaving a friend behind. It takes your eyes time to adjust, that’s for sure. The soundtrack for the evening was Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday, sang by friends of theirs (most likely) from way back when. I could probably do a character study on each person at the bar, but it would take up the rest of this blog. Suffice it to say there were older men, with slicked back hair in pin stripped suits (they were the singers), along with an assemblage of college students, three Frenchmen huddling behind us, and a girl in a bicycle outfit. The bar tender looked a bit lost most of the time, although he’s the son of the bar owner and Sarah sees him there whenever she goes. It was quite an assortment, which made for fun people watching, and the pints were tasty too!

Day Three (Monday)
Jimmy and Sarah didn’t have to go to work on Monday because it was a bank holiday, so Jimmy took me on a brief tour to St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana married Prince Charles) across to the Tate Modern, where I got a speedy yet informative view of the works within from Jimmy – to be honest I could probably have spent five hours within those walls and never have gotten as much information from it as Jimmy shared in five minutes. We walked by Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which I skipped on this tour because it is one of the only places I saw when I was in London last. Then we took a boat out to Greenwich. Boy, Greenwich is beautiful. The boat brings you up to the Naval Academy, which is best described as both massive and calm. Standing in it’s presence is truly awe-inspiring. It was also the site of the original Tudor Castle, where King Henry VIII, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I were born. Talk about historic. You never hear about kings and queens as children, but everyone has to be born at some point, so I don’t know why it was so difficult to believe that baby King Henry cried his nights away at that very spot.

We meandered our way through the royal park up to the center of time, literally Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), did everybody catch that because it took a whole conversation before I caught on. What a GORGEOUS VIEW! I had no idea London had so much greenery and trees. They don’t talk much about the huge parks in the history books, but they should! After a pint on the water, we went back to Canary Wharf and Jimmy finally got to do his grocery shopping. While Jimmy cooked, Sarah potted her plants and I danced around to Goldfrapp in the living room. I felt so at home  That evening we went up to the roof to watch the sunset over the city, I was having such a good time!

Day Four (Tuesday)
Over a lovely breakfast and cup of tea, Sarah and I began our morning. Then I left her to work on her Thesis while I took London on alone. I began at the Tower of London (more literally, a grouping of towers which form a Medieval castle, or fortress, or prison, or execution ground, depending on the era of history you are referencing…very old). My tour began at the beginning, with William the Conqueror’s private rooms (he built the palace) then I meandered past Traitor’s Gate, where William Wallace’s head once stood on a stick, through the garden where I stopped to watch a play which depicted Anne Boleyn’s wedding to King Henry VII, over to the Bloody Tower where King Edward IV’s sons were imprisoned by their uncle when their father died (they were never seen again…it’s a great mystery), and finally I went to see the highlight of this monument: The Crown Jewels! This is the official royal collection of crowns, scepters, orbs, swords and gowns used for coronations and state celebrations. One of these pieces, I think it was part of a scepter, is the largest cut diamond in the world and WOW does it sparkle! I am reminded of Abu’s face in Aladdin when he picks up the jewel and causes the wave of lava within the Cave of Wonder. (Yes, I did just quote Disney.) Funnily enough, you can view these pieces of elegance with your nose pressed to the glass as long as you stand on the people mover, so that you don’t become entranced and never move from your place. At first, I thought this was rather ridiculous, but in reality, whoever thought of this addition was a genius. I might never have left that spot without the help of a mechanical walkway beneath me.

Once I pried myself away from the jewels, I ate a quick sandwich at Subway and hopped on The Tube to continue my journey at Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I was struck by the immensity and intricate architecture of the Palace of Westminster (where the houses of Parliament are located) connected to the Big Ben Clock Tower. Westminster Abbey had a special engagement that day, so I couldn’t go inside but it was quite impressive from the outside. I came up to the side thinking it was the main entrance and stammered in it’s presence, so you can imagine my reaction upon seeing it from the front. Since William I was crowned here in 1066, all but two British sovereigns have been coronated at Westminster Abbey.

There was a hunger strike being performed in the park adjacent to Westminster Abbey and Westminster Palace, with balloons and yelling, which kind of ruined the serenity of viewing this tremendous and historical church. I understand the utility of striking against the war, it gives citizens a sense of control at a time where they feel they have none and it shows the government that there is dissention which should be considered, however throughout Paris and London strikers pick the most picturesque places to voice their concerns, and it often ruins the experience. Take from that what you will, I rejoice their freedom of speech and expression but as an observer it gets a little tiresome, especially as they tend to leave the remarkable site trash ridden.

Back to my tour of London, I continued down Whitehall Street passed a tribute to women of WWII. This was an interesting monument to the 7 million women who picked up many different work roles during the war and silently hung up their hats at the end of the day to let the men take the credit when the war was over. I passed 10 Downing Street (the official residence of the Prime Minister), but couldn’t see much because it was all gated up. I checked out the red-coated soldiers on horses, who look like they could each be my younger brother, and by the way, they do blink, they just don’t move their head. I wonder at their thoughts as people walk up to take pictures with them. Moving on…I hit a bustling Trafalger Square for a great view of the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column (a tribute to Admiral Lord Nelson who died in a victorious fight over Napoleon). Then I veered down The Mall toward Buckingham Palace. The Royal Standard was not flying above the palace, so I guess Queen Elizabeth had prior engagements. The Palace, as a whole, looks more like a big house than many of the Chateaux de Paris. There isn’t much to its architecture, but it’s definitely something to experience. I’m glad I watched The Queen before I came to London, it gives me perspective. The monument to Queen Victoria is quite remarkable as well. I walked through Green Park which surrounds the palace. Again with the greenery of London, I was so impressed at its beauty and tranquility!

At this point, I had quite a few other monuments to hit before dinner with Johnny, a friend of mine from Santa Barbara, but I was pooped. So I got on The Tube and went back to the pad for a snooze. I slept for an hour and a half! I guess I had done more walking than I thought. Sarah had a cup of tea ready for me when I awoke and I spent the next hour watching my new favorite British television show, Dr. Who (at least I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called). Newly rejuvenated, I went out to Notting Hill to meet up with Johnny for dinner at Churchill Arms, an interesting blend of English pub at one end and Thai restaurant on the other. It was a delicious experience. When I got home I enjoyed hot cocoa with Jimmy and Sarah as we watched an…intriguing show called Skallig, about a dirty and lost old man, befriended by a young boy, who was part bird and could heal people. It was more enjoyable than the description.

Day Five (Wednesday)
My bus back to Paris wasn’t until noon, so I went to work with Sarah to enjoy a nice cup of tea in an office meeting room with a great view of London. Unfortunately, it was overcast so I couldn’t see much, but I got a feel for what it probably looked like in the sunshine! I walked over to Trafalger Square to peek into the National Gallery which is impressive, I would have liked to spend more time there (guess I’ll just have to come back to London ;-) ). An interesting side note which enabled me to pop into the National Gallery and the Tate Modern the other day for a few minutes…most museums in London offer free admission! Special exhibits generally require a paid ticket and they do ask for a small donation of three pounds for the maintenance, but that is completely optional and anonymous. Why can’t Paris be like that?

My journey home was rather uneventful. The driver knew what he was doing, so we arrived to Paris an hour and a half early. Funny story…well looking back at least; at the time, it was somewhat traumatic. A few of the doors in my apartment do not have doorknobs, but can still close shut. When I got home I wheeled my suitcase back to my room and it caught on the door to the hallway and the door closed. I didn’t even realize there was a door there! So I was locked in the hallway, with nowhere to go but my bedroom. My cell phone was in the kitchen. The family whom I work for was in the countryside, so they wouldn’t be expecting me anytime soon. I was expected at ICOM for my internship the next day but they didn’t have my address, so it wouldn’t do much good for them to look for me. I spent the next two hours yelling out the window to the apartment that I thought Leticia, the aunt of the children I watch, lives. I even wrote a note, tucked it into the inside of a pen and threw it into the open window. Finally my neighbor came to the window (it was almost 11pm by this time) and I found out that Leticia’s family does not live there. My neighbor called the landlord who came up to find out my situation and called Phillip, Leticia’s husband, who came down with a key and eventually got the door opened. It was rather embarrassing, but I’m thankful that I was found. I’ve taped the latch on the door shut, but please pray that never happens again!

In summation, my trip to London was a wonderful vacation from Paris life. Although my French is getting exponentially better, it was nice to be able to walk up to an information kiosk and feel assured that the person would be able to understand me with little difficulty. Hangin’ out with Jimmy and Sarah was both casual and wonderful! I am so grateful because they really took me in and I felt at home in their world. It’s nice to have a home base when discovering a new city, it allows you to see it from a local’s perspective and hit the tiny wonders at the heart of the city. Plus, the tea was like a natural comfort in itself.

Next big thing…Mom is visiting for a week! I can’t wait to see her

Monday, April 20, 2009

Momentarily disconnected

My internet is no longer working at my apartment...bummer. Can't say when I'll be able to write next but I wanted to let you all know that I had a WONDERFUL time in London; Jimmy and Sarah took really good care of me :) It was a nice vacation from Parisian life. Back in France again and mom has arrived for a visit. We've been keeping ourselves busy with a trip to Versailles, an elevator ride up the Eiffel Tower and lots of walking, as only my mother and I know how to do :) I'm so happy to have her here til the end of the week!

That's all I can write for now, since I'm at work. Love to all!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Saint Vendredi

Today was Good Friday, or Saint Friday as it's referred in French. I found a little Roman Catholic Parish near my neighborhood called Saint Joseph's Church. It's an English congregation, which I wasn't actually looking to find, but since it was close I thought it might be nice. The priest has a great Irish accent and all of the lectures had a different accent from somewhere in the world. I recognized the American right away.

I had a strange epiphany, which might be difficult to explain, but I'll try: When I'm walking around town or on public transportation in Paris, I generally try to pass as Parisian (and wonder if I ever pull it off) so that if two people are talking, they might as well think I can understand them, even though most of the time I can't since French gossip can ramble a little bit and it's difficult for me to follow unless I get the full beginning, middle and end of a conversation. Anyway, sitting in this church surrounded by a room full of people who opted for an English service, I felt odd at first, because everywhere else I go, even though both of my jobs allow me to speak English on a regular basis, I am nervous that I won't be able to communicate. It was kind of unbelievable to me that I could (potentially) speak at my leisure and I would be understood. I felt like a kid with his hand caught in a cookie jar. I'm not supposed to be speaking English, but I can here and no one can fault me for it!

Ok, that said...moving on.
Darcy and I took French class together in high school. She studied abroad in college and then moved back for a masters program. Here's where I pay tribute to Facebook...Darcy noticed that I had a blog about living in Paris in the Springtime and sent me a message to grab dinner, so we did last Wednesday and then had lunch today. It was really great to catch up about where everyone is right now and what's changed at Notre Dame. It's just nice to have a friend in Paris that knows where I come from and where it feels like she genuinely likes having me around. It sounds strange but everyone I've met so far, it's been like I'll just go out and have fun and if nothing comes of it then it's no big deal, because it wasn't there before. But she cares that I text her when I get home, and that's a comfort that I hadn't realized I'd missed.

Now I need to get to bed because it's late and I'm off to London early tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I found grass in Paris, that you can actually sit on!

So, in general, Paris has a few green areas, mostly around national monuments. There are parks all over with playgrounds for kids to play on but they are usually surrounded by sand. The grass that you do find is manicured to a "T" and beware of signs which read, "Pelouses Interdit!" because that means you can look at the grass, but please do not touch it (much less cop a squat).

There exists a place however where you can bring your children to run around on the grass, roll down grassy knolls and picnic near ponds with duck families and swans. This place is quite majestic actually. I found it in the travel book on Paris, which talks about glorious rose gardens that famously bloom to beauty in June. Currently in bloom are meadows full of tulips (which I quite enjoy) of all types, colors, and shapes. It's found within the Bois de Bologne (Bois means woods in French). More specifically, in the Parc de Bagatelle.

A brief history, courtesy of Let's Go Paris, Charles X bet his sister-in-law, Marie Antoinette (by whom I am become increasingly intrigued) that he could build the Chateau de Bagatelle in under 3 months. It actually only took him 64 days. You would never guess that the result you find today was the result of a game rich people play when they feel like throwing around some money and wasting necessary resources that the commoners most likely needed for more pressing needs such as building fountains to bring water to the people. The revolution came shortly after the completion of this surprise there.

It made for a peaceful promenade around lakes, rock formations, and one (not very imposing) chateau. I wish I had thought to bring a picnic as so many others had, because the bus ride back to the metro was slow-going in bumper to bumper traffic down a two lane road. All in all, a pretty great find!

This weekend I'm off to London to spend some time with the newlyweds, Jimmy and Sarah, for, as Jimmy puts it, "Some good food, good wine and good conversation (in English woo hoo!) Ta-Ta for now!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I continue to be shocked and astounded by the things I see while traveling through Paris. They are generally little things, but I find myself staring oftentimes as I watch and think to myself..."seriously?"

1.) Parisians park their cars in the most random (or creative) places. It's difficult even to explain, as they must just be driving down the street and think, "Well, sure. That looks like it will fit my car. I'll just stop here." Sometimes they completely block in another car, sometimes they get to the sidewalk and, instead of parking parallel as the title "Parallel parking" would imply, park perpendicular. At least it's technically parallel to A street somewhere in Paris, if you take out map of the streets of the city, perhaps you will find one.

2.) There was a dog on the bus, wearing a diamond studded barrette. Judging by the bling on this pup's owner, I wouldn't be surprised if it was real...and yet, it rode the bus, so perhaps HER jewels were the fake ones? This barrette was similar to one of my bobby pins, but silver and (as I mentioned) diamond studded. My thoughts after I took the appropriate time allotted to believe I was seeing such a thing was this, "Even dogs have better accessories than me in Paris." I get that dogs get chilly, and so why not get them a cute little sweater, but diamond studded barrette? Really?

3.) 5 o'clock (or 17 o'clock if you're speaking in Parisian/military terms)must be the official smoking break for the city. I often leave to go to the Fromont's around 5pm, and as I walk, I ascend through a cloud of smoke to get to my destination. It's as if each business is clocked to my footsteps so another person walks out of a building,cigarette in mouth, lighter in hand, as I pass each business door. I should mention that the smoking I notice honestly seems less, since that last time I was here, but at 5pm all bets are's been a rough day and people need their nicotine.

4.) Connected to this thought is the age of the people I see smoking. A lot of the time, it's young people. And by young, I mean 10. Or at least that's how it seems sometimes. I have literally stopped to stare and decipher the age of some of the kids I see smoking around the city. Maybe it weirds them out, I hope it makes them feel awkward enough to put the cigarette out and give themselves a chance to grow to their full height potential. Apparently Paris must not have an age limit in order to be able to buy cigs. (This might have sounded harsh, but I feel strongly about it, so sue me).

5.) Then there are the things that make me pause and reflect in a different way. Like when I wake up in the morning and the sun rise has blasted the sky with pinks and oranges around the Eiffel Tower and I think to myself, "Wow, is this real, or has someone put a screen behind my window to make me feel like I'm dreaming."

6.) Or when I walk by the Palais Royale (Royal Palace) and there is a small orchestra playing music for the public. And I stop to listen and look around at the other people who have pushed pause on their seemingly busy days to appreciate art. So what if I arrive one minute late to my destination, if I can't allow myself to enjoy this then why am I even here?

Those are a few of the examples of the ways I am constantly stopping the general flow of my day to take stock in the abnormalities of Paris life. I'm sure it is this way in any city, so I advise you to stop and notice, you might be surprised at what you see.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ma Soeur, Mon Coeur “my sister, my heart”

(Attention: This blog entry comes with a warning to break up the reading…I’m not kidding…it’s long. Maybe go day by day and take a break for a café au lait or a siesta!)

I walked home Tuesday night with a skip in my step and a smile on my face because the next morning, I would wake up and take the RER to meet Annie at the airport. I got there right on time, and grabbed a coffee to wait outside of arrivals. There is probably no better place to watch people in the airport than at arrivals. One girl paced around and every time the nearly translucent door would open her head would shoot up and crane to see who was exiting. I believe she was waiting for the same plane as me, so I never saw who she was waiting for, I can only imagine…

Another girl waited with an elderly couple. She was waiting for her family to arrive, and when they showed up she was all smiles and hugging and making introductions and taking pictures with her sister. I believe she is studying abroad and her family is in France to visit her. The elderly couple is her homestay family and they don’t speak any English, so she can impress her family by translating back and forth between her American family and sa famille Francais. The story is a familiar one for me. There was a couple in their forties who hugged and kissed each other with such emotion as I can only hope to share one day in my marriage.

Anne had no trouble finding her way to baggage claim and out to me! Poor Annie wasn’t feeling too great after the long plane ride, so after excited hugs, we found our way to the RER station (read: Caltrain) and wound our way into the city. One of the metro stops that I frequent is accessed by the Champs Elysee and it has an escalator which brings you up to the street with an awesome view of the Arc de Triomphe (probably my favorite monument in Paris). I love taking an escalator out of a metro station. It’s a little pleasure, but the wind hits you and you can gather your impression of Paris life slowly as you ascend to street level. It’s majestic and also one of those simple pleasures in life, which I try not to take for granted.

Anne and I went on a brief tour to see the Eiffel Tower from the Champ de Mars (the stretch of lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower), as well as check out my old haunts near the American University of Paris in the Seventh district, before walking home by the Seine. I dropped Anne off at home so that she could rest and went to work with the kids. That night, we walked to Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower at night. The Troc (as it was so lovingly referred to by my friends and me during our studies abroad) has by far the best view of the Eiffel Tower at night. The Champ de Mars may claim everyone’s wonder during the day, but by night, there is no better place to be in Paris than The Trocadero. As cliché as it may be, when the Eiffel Tower sparkles (which it does on the hour, every evening) it is awe-inspiring.

Wednesday, Annie and I went to the street market by my house to get supplies for spaghetti sauce, which we would make the next day. This provided me the perfect excuse to push myself past my comfort zone and order everything from cheese, to meat, to veggies, to spices. It really wasn’t that difficult and the one dude whom I didn’t understand, nor did he have the patience to explain, merely lost our business and the next vendor was very helpful! I mean really, how difficult is it to hand me a basket and say fill. Not very. Anyway, once that was all finished, I went off to hang out with the Fromonts and Anne sauntered through Paris toute seule. My day turned out to be rather exhausting as Max taught me a new game called 1-2-3 Maison de Magic (House of Magic), in which I was the cat and he was the mouse. I’m sure you can imagine how that game plays out, and why I spent the better part of an hour chasing and being chased by a little boy on a bike. But it was fun, Max learned how to say House of Magic in English (or he wasn’t safe from the cat) and I’ve never seen him laugh so much.

That evening, Annie and I went to the Bastille to see it lit up at night and ate a rather expensive French meal. (Well my meal of Duck ravioli topped with foie gras was French, Anne ordered a burger haha!).

Thursday took us to the Louvre to soak up all sorts of French art and culture. We spent about 4 and a half hours (and 4 Euro on a coke because we happened to sit down instead of taking our food away – I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m slightly peeved at this). Anyway, the Louvre was really very enjoyable. The sculpture is very impressive and the paintings are among the most famous in the world. I’m constantly amazed at how long these paintings have lasted. I doubt if Leonardo da Vinci would ever have imagined that his Mona Lisa would have lasted for so many years, or been seen by so many people. Many of those paintings were created for private collections. Among the favorites were Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and the Wedding Feast at Cana (this painting is enormous and there are the most random additions which I would never have thought about in reading this famous Bible story, i.e. a cat on the table – sure why not?)

Thursday evening we enjoyed yummy pasta chez moi, and watched The Bourne Identity on my computer. They filmed many of the scenes in Paris and Matt Damon is just great to look at ;-)

Friday, we reserved for Versailles, and I am so happy to have been able to go back with Annie. I had been twice when I was studying here, but there was so much I had never seen before! I must admit that I much prefer seeing the smaller extensions rather than the grandeur of the main chateau (although this really must be seen and appreciated first). The Chateau is immense and the history that surrounds you is just incredible to experience. My favorite thing to do in Paris is imagine how it looked hundreds of years ago, and it’s really not difficult to do at Versailles because everything has been so well kept and restored in it’s original fashion. After touring the Chateau and the Dauphin’s Apartments (which I had never seen), we walked out to the Petit Trianon (basically a mini chateau), which was originally built for Louis XIV (or XV)’s official mistress, though she never got to live there because she died before it was finished. It was later gifted to Marie Antoinette who made it her own, and who spent most of her time there with friends, in retreat from palace life. She also built a Hamlet of little farm houses behind the Petit Trianon. It is a beautiful walk to the Hamlets and they have been preserved in such peacefulness, that you feel like you are walking into a storybook once you find them. Anne and I enjoyed this part of Versailles IMMENSELY! That’s it for Versailles, we were tired so we took the little trolly back to the main chateau and headed home.

In an effort to relieve the many activities we reserved for Anne’s last day, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower on the way home and made our way up for a great view of the city. You know how people always say “I can see my house from here!” when they are up really high and looking out over a beautiful view…I actually can! It was quite a revelation. After we took the stairs (which take longer than they look) back down to the ground, Anne got to try her first Chocolate, Banana, and Chantilly crepe. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I’ll try to get a picture up of this perfection soon, though I’ve reached my limit on Flickr for the month, so I may have to wait a few days. Needless to say it was great. After dinner, we decided that Anne should experience the wonder of the lack of an open container law in Paris, so we bought a bottle of wine and went to the Arc de Triomphe for a night cap. The Arc de Triomphe is MASSIVE. It is by far my favorite monument in Paris (Though, I admit that others are my favorite for other reasons – Sacre Coeur is my favorite Church, Trocadero is my favorite view of the Eiffel Tower, the Eiffel Tower is THE symbol of Paris so in that way I do not love the steel is made from as much as what it represents—I digress).

I am still amazed at the amount of activities we packed into Saturday. Our day began near the Trocadero at quiet restaurant with Café au Laits, orange juice and baguettes (for a time, we were the only customers). We moved along, ahead of schedule, to the Luxembourg gardens (my favorite gardens in Paris ;-) hehe, see how I get around the distinction). After a stroll along the path, noting the adorable little children playing with boats in the fountain, the honey bee collectors, the large play structure and the Statue of Liberty…wait, what?) we continued along the sixth quarter past La Sorbonne, the Musée de Cluny, famous for the ancient bath house relics, and the Latin Quarter, to Notre Dame – talk about ancient. We paused for lunch so that Anne could try a Parisian dish called a Croque Monsieur (basically a ham and cheese sandwich, but so totally different than your average ham and cheese sandwich). Next we went to Sainte-Chappelle, where three walls are covered by stained class windows and it’s impossible to take a bad picture, because even the blurry ones come out artistic. Our promenade to the Musee D’Orsay after Sainte Chappelle somehow landed us in the middle of a hail storm, so we stopped under an artists overhang but basically got drenched. It came rather out of the blue, lasted just long enough for us to get to the museum, and then stopped. It was so bizarre, but it’s an experience I had not yet been through in Paris, so I’ll take it with a smile on my face  At the D’Orsay, we spent most of our time going through the Impressionist paintings on the fifth floor. There is just something about Monet, Van Gogh and Rembrandt that gets me. It’s something with the softness of the painting I think, that puts me immediately at ease. Then I dragged Anne around trying to find a sculpture of Ophelia, which was totally not worth it, but we found it in the end thanks to a helpful man at the Info desk.

After the D’Orsay, and a rather long trek up ten flights of winding stairs to get out of the Abesses Metro station, we paused for a café and stopped into this adorable shop Michelle recommended called Pylones. It was the vibrant colors that first attracted us, and then of course we were on a mission to find something with a frog on it for Annie and this shop had so many options we had to check them all out! Sacre Coeur, and the weather, waited for us to arrive, and it was the entire splendor I have ever witnessed. We toured through the church, and then walked through the artists square in Montmartre…which was overtaken by extensions of the surrounding restaurants for dining al fresco (this is not a French word, so pardon my spelling)! We chose a lovely restaurant called La Boheme and had a delicious meal complete with Chocolate Mousse and Fromage Blanc (basically cheese the texture of soup doused in sugar…it’s quite wonderful). The night ended with a drink at a pub/club in the Latin Quarter and a taxi ride home.

Sunday morning was something out of a movie, a dramedy most likely. Anne had packed the night before so we didn’t feel at all rushed to get out of the house. I had planned our trip so that we would get to the Airport 2 hours before her plane would take off, so we thought as long as we left by 10 we’d be fine. Our first hiccup came at the metro station where the machine mysteriously would not accept Anne’s ticket. So we had to go upstairs to buy another one, as well as our RER passes to Charles de Gaulle. When we got to the RER station, I was showing Anne how to tell if the train is yours or not and we noticed that all of a sudden it was 11:30. Now that’s strange because we definitely had not been traveling for an hour and a half, so why would the computer at the RER station be wrong, those things are never wrong. Why else would the clock be an hour later during Spring time than your watch and…lightbulb! It’s Daylight Savings and we have literally sprung forward. Crap. We remain calm and get on our RER (a taxi at this point might take longer, since it was a bullet train straight to the airport). The ride to the airport was accompanied by a jolly accordion player, who seemed to tap into and feed off of our anxiousness. My heart rate increased and so his song picked up tempo…or maybe it was vice versa, either way I felt like I was trapped in a bad 3 Stooges movie. We raced through the terminals (of which I am now a master), and when we reached the Continental check in, not only had Anne missed the hour cut-off for International flights, but every check in counter had been closed up and put away. The (one) man at the ticket desk was helping another girl who had missed the same flight, most likely for the same reason. She had to pay $250 to change her flight and stay in Paris for another night. When we got to the counter he originally said Anne would have to pay for a completely ticket (which probably goes for about a thousand dollars if your lucky). Then he said he would waive that and just make her pay the $250 to change her flight, but that she would have to stay another day in Paris. For some reason he softened by our story and found a flight which had been delayed since the early morning due to mechanical problems with the plane. It was no promise, but he said that if the flight wasn’t cancelled she could be on it. So he took down my number and we waited.

First at McDonalds

then walking up and down the terminal,

then in a seat where I dozed on Annie’s shoulder, only to be awakened abruptly by the ring of my telephone and “Things are looking up!” from the man on the other side of my receiver. In a haze and whirlwind Anne suddenly had a ticket, a promise that she would see the States by sundown and we said a quick goodbye before she headed through security. At this point, I know that she made it to New Jersey, where she most likely had to stay in a hotel over night before taking a flight early Monday morning. There was a flicker of hope that she would make a red eye back to San Francisco, but the chances were minimal at best. This is very unfortunate for Anne, because she can’t seem to make it back from Europe without having to spend an unexpected night in an airport hotel (Due to plane delays, she and Dave had to spend a night in Frankfurt Germany on their way back from their honeymoon). In any event, she should be home safe by now and as much of a pain as it was, it was so much more wonderful to have had her here this past week. I talked her ear off the first night she was here, because she was the first person I had talked to in three weeks where there wasn’t a delay, language barrier or awkwardness of meeting new people. LoL!

I can’t even say that it’s back to reality for me, because how can I ever describe this experience as reality? Nope, I guess I’ll go to sleep and remain in this clever dream in which I find myself and say a prayer to thank God for every moment of this experience.

Thanks for reading this one, it was rather long and I hope you took it in parts. If you've got some more internet in you, I added a few pictures of Anne's stay to my Flickr account. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the amount I can add per month, so the rest will be added once April hits:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The weekend

It was another lovely weekend here in Paris. The sun was shining and I tried to take advantage as much as possible. I went down to the farmers market Saturday morning and extended myself slightly more than last time, by buying bananas, strawberries, oranges and apples. It's no meat and fish purchases, but it's baby steps. By June I might even be able to ask for nuts and little sugar honey snacks! I also bought some flowers to brighten up the apartment! After shopping a bit I went to babysit for the day and it was just me and the littlest tike Alexis (who is one and a half and such a happy baby!) and me for awhile so we went to a sand dune at Palais Royale and played before coming home for a bath. Then I had dinner with all three kids and read them Alice and Wonderland (that story is so derranged, I didn't even know how to begin to translate it for them!) When the parents got home I met up with some of my international friends (which I will refer to as the Science Po crew as that is the school they all study at). Lots of fun and a long day, but a very good day :) Sunday I took it slow, did some laundry and went up to the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre (which I have decided will be the next place I live in Paris). I LOVE this spot. There are so many diverse people, especially on a sunny Sunday afternoon, because like the Luxembourg gardens, it is a nice place to sit outside and enjoy the weather. Also, everything closes down on SUndays, so you have to do activities at public areas.

Now, I'm all set and waiting for Annie to arrive!! She is en route to Texas as I type and I will meet her at Charles de Gaulle at 10am tomorrow! The weather is supposed to be only party cloudy so hopefully there wont be any delays. I'm so excited for her visit!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Happy St. Patty's Day to all!

I hope you wore your green yesterday :) Mine was a poor showing of green earrings and green in my scarf, but it was all I could do on a last minute notice! My friend Madeline got me in touch with a high school friend of hers who is in a master's program here in Paris. He studied abroad here for a year during undergrad and, like me, couldn't get enough of Paris, so he moved back! He invited me to celebrate St. Patty's Day at Kitty O'Sheas, a pub near La Grande Opera. The French don't really celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, but this Irish pub in particular played Irish music...sorry no jig from me this time...and gave out Guinness t-shirts and clover top hats! It was packed!
I was with quite an international crowd of Americans, French, British, and yes...Irish students. I was laughing with one of the Americans that it figures that my first night on the town back in Paris, I would be surrounded by other Americans and everyone would be speaking English! It was lots of fun and a nice alteration to my routine. The hat is pretty funny, I'll have to save it for next year's celebration of my heritage ;-)
The weather here has been absolutely gorgeous! Sunny all day with temperatures just low enough that you should have your arms covered but thats it. It reminds me of good San Francisco weather. Stupidly, I only brought heavy coats, so I guess I might have to make a stop at Les Halles (the mall) and make my first Parisian fashion purchase! I've been holding out, as it's like an addiction, once you begin buying French clothes, there it no telling when you might stop!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Today went to the Franklin Roosevelt metro station on the Champs Elysee to buy a Navigo pass. This allows me to use the metro and the bus in Paris without having to deal with those mangy tickets. I'm pretty excited because it gives me more freedom to push out past my little neighborhood and explore further throughout Paris without having to worry if I have enough tickets to get back (while saving a certain amount to get to my internship and the Fromonts etc). Its great! Plus, it's automatic so I basically just have to plop my purse down on the machine and it let's me go through. This is an added benefit because I usually stuff my purse to the brim so it saves me having to search through my purse, spending precious moments that might cause me to miss my metro.

That's all for today! Anne will be here exactly a week from today...woot woot!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday in paradise, oh, I mean Paris!

Today was a beautiful day in Paris! It was probably in the upper fifties and sunny! I went to the Luxembourg gardens to read my book, (along with a third of the population of Paris). It is such a beautiful garden with immense history. It was originally build to be a widows palace for Marie (I think) de Medici, before she had a falling out with her son and was banished from Paris. Then it was a jail during the revolutionary and now it it houses the Senate. After two hours of lounging in the sun I took a stroll through Paris, centering myself with the Isle de la Cite and Notre Dame. In a few hours I saw the Hotel Dieu (a famous hospital of Paris), La Sainte Chappelle, the Latin Quarter, the Cluny Museum, and La name a few. I walked through what I thought was a farmers market, but turned out to be a market selling pets and pet necesities (rabbits, birds, cages food etc). I stopped at a bookstore which was selling novels for 50 centimes (I bought Gossip girls and Philadelphia en francais). Ate a ham and cheese crepe, watched a French Hip Hop group do a performance in the street and then, instead of locating my bus stop, I walked home along the Seine. My feet are killing me, but it was totally worth it! All in all, a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow I have to be at ICOM bright and early so it's off to bed for me! Wish me luck tomorrow!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Days are so much longer when you wake up at 6am!

im still a little off on my time but Ive decided it's really a good thing. This morning I woke up at 6 and couldnt go back to sleep, so I went downstairs and called Anne from the phone booth (or cabine en français). Then I went for a run by the Eiffel Tower, made myself a big breakfast and by that time it was only nine in the morning. I ran errands at the Monoprix (read: Target) and stopped into the Farmers market, which may seem like a usual task, but when there is a language barrier it really is not. In the end I settled on a box of raspberries, which tasted delicious! Trying to buy meat was just too difficult for today, LoL! This evening I babysat the two little boys (Maxime and Alexis) and have a little time so I thought I might try to tackle this keyboard yet again!

I met with Lysa and my internship is all set up. I will work on Mondays and Thursdays helping to edit the newsletter and answer emails, which I believe will turn into a difficult task as it's an international organization so they will be coming in all languages. Lysa seems unphased at my not nowing Spanish even though we will print the newsletter in English French and Spanish. I guess it will be a crash course for me! It will definitely be a challenge but Im already excited to begin and find my niche at ICOM. Its supposedly only run by 15 people or so, which means that they can use whatever help I can bring to the table and so far everyone I have met have been very nice and helpful.

Oh, so this might be an important piece of information... the phone number I wrote in the last blog is incorrect, or rather missing a number. It is 06 20 13 55 31. And I believe if you are calling from a number outside of France it is 33 62 01 35 531. For reference 33 is the French country code. As you can see, Im learning as I go. Keep your fingers crossed that I can get internet access from my apartment, as it will make skyping much easier. I did find a starbucks with WIFI access, so it would be just like home! But some conversations are not meant for the barrista to hear.

In case I cant get internet access for awhile, Monday starts the week count down until Annie arrives, and Im so excited!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Arrived at last1

Internet is touch and go here in my little french apartment, so Im using the computer at the Fromont household which has a different keyboard so please excuse the odd spellings. I also donùt have a lot of time, but I wanted to write to say that I msde it to Paris and its as I remember it and yet completely different! I love my apartment and neighborhood. I have been spending time getting to know the Fromont kids (who are absolutely adorable) Unfortunately I havent done a lot of sight seeing yet because in ;y off time, I sleep since the jetlag is really taking its toll. I do see the Eiffel Tower everyday though which is always a welcome sight! Today I left early for work so I had some time to walk around around the Louvre pyramids. Mita, the Fromonts nanny, and I were just talking about how lucky these kids are to grow up in the midst of so much history! I got a French tele^hone set up this afternoon and my number is 06 20 13 553. Add 33 to the beginning and drop the 0 for calls from the US. I took pictures of my apartment and Ill upload them as soon as I can!

Love to all!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Googbye, my friends

Thank you all for your wonderful wishes and words of encouragement. I downloaded and set up my skype account. My account name is jzappelli. Once I get settled I'll charge it up and use it to keep in touch. Otherwise, (as far as I'm aware) everything's all settled! I'm going to try to get some sleep, since I have to leave the house at 5am tomorrow, and I'll write again from the other side of the Atlantic!

Au Revoir!

Friday, March 6, 2009

All packed up

For once in my life, I am actually packed for a trip over 48 hours in advance. Ok for all of you who know what a procrastinator I am, breath. I know this is shocking information, but it will probably save me a panic attack Sunday night, so it's worth it. I still have to pack the toiletries, but I couldn't get around that, so there you have it.

You will also notice to the right of this blog, that I now have an address in Paris. I received an email from Sylvie Fromont (that's the mom of the family I will be working for) and she answered a few of the questions I had while packing, one of which was, "What will my address be?" I originally thought I would be living in their apartment complex in the center of town, but I have come to find out that I will be living in the 16th district, which is in the west of the city, near the Trocadero and the Arc de Triomphe. Also, I have a view of the Eiffel Tower...HOLLA! So I'm pretty excited! Her sister's family and her grandmother also live in my apartment complex, in different apartments on separate floors. I think it'll be nice to have my own space but know that there are people close by in case anything happens.

So that's the sitch. Three more days!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The unabridged story of how my trip to Paris came about

Back in December, Peter, the President at The Tech, was kind enough to send my resume (Cirriculum Vitae en Francais) to a few of his acquaintances in Europe, to see if anyone might be interested in hiring me. His friend at the International Council of Museums in Paris was interested in hiring me for a communications intern to help with the quarterly newsletter for the organization but the position would be unpaid so I had to look for other employment to sustain myself while I would be abroad. Peter then introduced me to the Lucie, marketing director of the San Jose Jazz (they shared our office building). Lucie grew up in Paris and got me in touch with her friends, The Fromonts, to be a part time nanny/English teacher for their children. There is an extra apartment available in their complex, owned by their family, that they will let me use in exchange for my part-time work. Everything was coming together nicely, I had an internship, a place to stay and the opportunity to live in France!

Then I found out that ICOM hired a new General Director, who wanted to cut down on the number of interns hired, so as to refocus the group. Lysa was unable to get my internship approved. I decided I would still go to Paris, because my arangement with the Fromonts is a wonderful opportunity, and it leaves my days open to babysit for other families or just explore Paris! So, I readjusted the amount of time will stay in Paris to accommodate the strict Visa regulations and bought my ticket!

With one week to go, I have been studying my French grammar, getting affairs (such as insurance etc) in order for my travels, and packing (which will begin anytime now).

This morning, I received an email from Lysa that my internship has been approved, and she would like to meet with me as soon as I get settled into Paris. So, the world is right again! I will meet with Lysa, hopefully WOW her with my marketing expertise, and get really great experience with an international museum organization. I'm so intrigued...and excited because this will also be a fun way to meet people while I am abroad.

Ok, that's the post for today. Now I'm off to run a few errands and then I will take out my luggage and begin the packing process.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My inspiration

I thought I would share two quotations that have been a source of inspiration for me in readying for my trip to Paris. The first is from the movie Paris Je T'aime (which means literally, Paris, I love you) and the second I received in a note from my Aunt, who has been a constant support in my trying to find a way to get back to Paris.

"Sitting there, alone in a foreign country,
far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me.
It was like remembering something I'd never known before
or had always been waiting for, but I didn't know what.
Maybe it was something I'd forgotten or something I've been missing all my life.
All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness.
But not too much sadness, because I felt alive.

Yes, alive.

That was the moment I fell in love with Paris.
And I felt Paris fall in love with me." - Paris, Je t'aime

"If you know you're interested in something,
don't let imaginary boundaries or preconceptions prevent you from pursuing it.
The truth is, you can blur the lines as much as you want.
In fact, if you do, you'll probably find yourself more successful
than if you'd always done what was expected of you." - Unknown

Now I just have to pack!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why am I blogging, you may ask.

Hello world,

On March 9th, 2009 I will get on a plane bound for Paris, France. I'm going over there to be a part-time nanny/English teacher for a few kids, in exchange for an apartment. My goal is to immerse myself in French culture so that I can get a better grasp on the language and customs. I've always been attracted to France, Paris, in particular. I studied there for four months during college, but it wasn't enough so I'm going back. La Tour Eiffel awaits!

Last time I went abroad, I kept in touch through email, but this time, I'm going to try to keep my blog updated, so that I don't inundate your inboxes. Check back and read about my journey in Paris. Please also keep me connected to the states with your stories! I'm going to miss you!