Thursday, May 27, 2010

Still in Burbank...

I've been really slow at updating, but my epic Rome post IS on its way! I would write it tonight but I have to go to my little brother's silly graduation, and then I'll be out all night with MY friends, and then I take a train (remember those?) at 7:20 AM tomorrow to IRVINE, but after that, I'm going to write it. I'm just stalling because as soon as I finish than my travels are officially over :(

Friday, May 21, 2010


Hello! I haven't disappeared! But I AM safe and sound in Burbank, after my first flight from Paris was canceled by the volcano, after missing my flight from Dallas to LAX, and after being in transit for 24 hours. I told you that I would be back to post about my two weeks of European adventures, and here they are, one city at a time. Enjoy!

PART ONE, PARIS. April 23, 2010.

I met up with Monica at 6:15 outside her house (we lived 5 minutes away from each other (which is handy at 6:15 in the morning) so that we could go to Gare St. Jean together, where we were meeting up with Jackie and Candy (we would meet up with Valerie in Paris, because she had opted to take an even earlier train). Nothing too exciting there. Except that I got angry because in between our naps on the 3 and a half hour ride from Bordeaux to Paris, Monica and I would occasion talk/squeal about how excited we were for this trip, and I don’t think the girl in front of us appreciated it, as evidenced by the flick of her hand over the back of her seat, which kind of silenced Monica and I abruptly, because she could have just as easily turned around and said “Pardon moi”, which we totally would have understood as “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but it’s not even 8AM and I would love to just sleep a little more. Perhaps you could keep your voices a tad lower?”. Because 1) I seriously don’t think Monica and I were talking that loudly, and 2) We were really excited!. But she probably should have thought about it before she silenced us so rudely, because she might have realized that I had the power to kick the back of her chair for the next hour, while she wouldn’t have been able to reciprocate. Not like I took advantage of this, or anything, but basically, I REALLY hate rude people, and it made me mad.

Our day in Paris was relatively uneventful, but still a lot of fun. We decided ahead of time that because we had all either already spent a lot of time there, or because we were going to be back in the future, that it was going to be a relaxed day. We decided to take advantaged of the GLORIOUS weather by heading straight to the Eiffel Tower (which I had actually never even SEEN in person before), where we lounged by it on the grass for literally two hours. It was such a nice break from the coldness that is Bordeaux. And we saw a puppy! So that was good.

Jackie, Me, Valerie, Candy & Monica.

The Seine! Valerie & I are big Les Miz fans, so needless to say, we were excited to be there.

Sacre Coeur!

We ate lunch, went to Notre Dame, DRANK STARBUCKS FILTERED COFFEE, and eventually went to Montmartre towards sunset so that we could go to Sacre Coeur (which was pretty awesome, if you like basilicas and stuff). My opinion is definitely, however, that as cool as Paris might be, it’s definitely the seediest place I’ve ever been. Rome might be touristy too, but neither of my trips had the same seedy feel that Paris emitted. Like, there are Eastern European women EVERYDAY asking for money, and when you don’t answer their French, they come armed with a bunch of languages, so that you really have to ignore them until they go away. Also, the thread-bracelet scam guys were all over Sacre Coeur. And we definitely had to fend of drunk guys as we sat on the steps waiting for the sun to go down. I never felt afraid, or anything, and I liked all of my time in Paris, I just think that this characteristic sets it apart from the other cities that I’ve visited for me.

Our hostel, Le Village, was really nice – the four of us had our own room and bathroom and shower. Not that it really mattered, because we were barely going to be there because we were going to have to leave so early in the morning anyway to get to the bus to the airport in order to go to Rome (!). We knew where the official Aeroport Beavais bus was supposed to pick us up on the map, but we didn’t actually know where we were supposed to find it. Once we were all back in our room at night, Candy and I sat down to choose the fastest metro route to Port Maillot, where the buses left from. We had to be there by 6AM, so we were nervous about getting there in time, because there was no way we were NOT getting on that plane. To make a long story short, after one discussion with the guy at reception, a quick trip to the closest metro station to confirm that his advice about when the metro started running was correct (it wasn’t), another conversation with him about the best way to get a taxi in the morning, and an extra-early wake-up by me and Candy before everyone else just to ensure that there WERE taxis running in order to leave enough time if we were going to have to call one, the four of us (Valerie was staying with her aunt) were up, checked out, and in a taxi on our way to Port Maillot. All was well. Until we had been zooming through the dark streets of Montmartre for five minutes, when Monica apologetically realized that she had accidentally left her cell phone under the pillow in the hostel…….

Next Time: Rome?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Here we are! Eek. How can this possibly be my last blog post while in France??! I was supposed to fly home today, obviously, but the ash cloud canceled that flight, conveniently allowing me to spend my last day in France in the Louvre (my original plan was to spend all of yesterday there, but unlike every OTHER museum in the world, the Louvre is open on Mondays but closed on TUESDAYS, UGH). But it ended out working out perfectly, because yesterday ended up being perfect for the Musee D'Orsay and Saint Chappelle, and I still got to see the Mona Lisa, etc. I actually saw it about five separate times because I took so many wrong turns while trying to leave, but that's another story.

In order to commemorate this sad occasion, I've compiled a list of the many important life lessons I learned while living in Bordeaux. The next time you go to France, these may make your transition smoother, so feel free to use them.


1. Don’t type text messages while walking down the street (or, don’t do anything that involves not looking at your feet for that matter). You WILL step in dog poo.

2. Each and every cultural point WILL be closed between the hours of 12 and 2 (2 hour lunch breaks are necessary for anyone who is responsible for sitting down while selling tickets).

3. Ham and Fish definitely count as “vegetarian”.

4. A cappuccino is an extra large cup of espresso with whipped cream on top.

5. You can always have whipped cream on top of a drink if you so desire – for an extra 50 centimes, that is.

6. When your host mom asks you if you have your umbrella because one can never tell if it will rain or not, she means it.

7. Ordering a hot dog actually means ordering the sausages inside an entire baguette (and I say sausages as a plural because you will need at least two to fill up the length of the baguette).

8. If you aren’t putting butter on your rice or radishes, you’re doing something wrong.

9. Being in the middle of the street as you walk across authorizes the cars coming in your direction to speed up.

10. If you’re an older guy, and you need to ask a younger girl for directions to the nearest bookstore, it is apparently perfectly acceptable for the very next words out of your mouth to bluntly be “So, do you want coffee?” no matter how creepy you seem.

11. Don’t forget to find entertainment other than spending money on Sundays – even most grocery stores will not be open (and, when you tell your host mom that this is weird, prepare for her answer that OBVIOUSLY nothing is open– in what kind of world do people have to WORK on SUNDAYS??)

12. When you have a test to take on campus, your tram will break down.

13. Madeleines can be found in bags (à la chips) at the supermarket! It is important to eat a lot of these.

14. When you write Art History papers on Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, remember that while similar, the French words for “sin” and “peach” are not actually interchangeable.

15. Tabasco sauce exists in France – in the Italian section of the grocery store.

16. Think long and hard before explaining foreign concepts to your host mom – sometimes it’s better to stop the explanation before you reach a point when you no longer know how to clarify: “Ohhhh, yes Amelia, I think I understand what you are saying about zeez ‘frozen yogurt’. So, you have the yogurt, and you put the things on top, and then you make it cold somehow?”

17. Playing tag in the park is a perfectly acceptable pastime for a group 21-year-olds who have been cooped up in the rain for the previous four months.

18. Don’t even attempt to wait before eating the macarons you have just purchased at the fancy chocolate store. Simply looking at them will make them crumble.

19. When you ask if your host mom likes margheritas, she will get a gleam in her eye and will half smile, and and then will whisper “Yes Amelia. But only have two”.

20. French doors don’t have doorknobs, and even the keys that fit in the locks will almost never work. Be prepared by having a book with you to keep you busy while you wait for your 11-year-old host brother to come home from school so that he can let you in.

21. A jar of mini pickles is a must-have at any French dinner.

22. A 200-step staircases found inside cathedral bell towers are not subject to the same safety requirements found in other countries (i.e. America). Be careful of that surprise slope while you squeeze against the wall on your way up so that the people coming down can use the same space!

22. The exchange rate between the dollar and the euro will always start to improve just as you leave France.

23. After any French diner, you will always be offered yoghurt. ALWAYS.

24. It was always, in every circumstance, acceptable to wear stripes :)

So there you have it. Done! Can you believe it? I won't believe it until I'm back home in Burbank (kind of like the same way I won't believe my flight hasn't been canceled again until my plane is actually in the air). I hope my blog has been an accurate taste of ma vie bordelaise. AND, just because this is my last blog while on this continent, that doesn't mean that you get to stop reading! Stay tuned for more information/my official blog posts about my two weeks of European travel which I haven't posted yet.

Sigh. I miss macarons and pain au chocolate already! Wow. See you in Pacific Standard Time :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

back where I started from

I officially said au revoir to Bordeaux yesterday while at a picnic with all of my favorite people at the Jardin Publique, which is probably the best way to say goodbye to a city and the friends you've lived with for four and a half months. There was even sun!

I took the train to Massy TGV, and now I'm at Pascale's. My big plan of the day was to go directly to the Louvre and bask in its glory alllll daaaayy lonnnng, since I've never been before. HOWEVER, apparently unlike other musuems which close their doors on MONDAYS, the Louvre is closed on TUESDAYS. So no Louvre for me, but it's not the end of the world because I guess I'll just have to come back. So I'm going to use today to do two things I haven't done yet in Paris: The Musee D'Orsay and Saint Chappelle (which has been closed BOTH times I have been in Paris. Today, it's happening).

LAST DAY IN FRANCE! Sooooo weiiiiiirrrd. I feel like I only just was at Pascale's about to embark on my trip to Bordeaux. And I'm sitting in the same spot right now that I was sitting in when Pascale first called Joana for me to work out the details of my arrival at the train station in Bordeaux. Incroyable.

Update tonight :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I leave tomorrrrrow. SO WEIRD. I've been especially bad about blogging because the last few days have been spent trying to see everyone/do as many bordelaise things as possible. This includes eating any pastry I run into, lots of walking on the quai near the river, lots of trips to Sweeny Todd's, and lots of eating our favorite formule (an amazing saumon sandwich, a drink, a legit patisserie, and a YOGURT all for 3.90!). With my friends, of course, not by myself.

The Centre de California organized an excursion to an abbey and a chateau yesterday, which was a lot of fun. There were also a bagpipe/fiddle duo, who taught all forty of us how to folk dance, then played music while we danced IN FRONT OF A MEDIEVAL CASTLE. It was an amazing day, and a perfect opportunity to see most people before I left. And then we ate macaroons after.

Here are a few highlights of my little vacation, to give you an idea of what went down:





Pictures do not accurately describe this trip's epicness. Story soon.

I have a picnic appointment with my friends tomorrow for one last saumon sandwich, and then I'll take the train towards Paris to stay with Pascale for two nights. OR MORE, because apparently France now has a large ash cloud hovering over it that is affecting TRANSATLANTIC flights. And once the cloud disappears, I fly home from CDG.

This blog should be more emotional, because I completely adore Joana and Ynel, and Bordeaux, but it hasn't really sunk in that I'm officially leaving tomorrow. All I can say at the moment is that the city of Bordeaux was probably the ideal city for me to live in for the time that I was here, and that Joana and Ynel were the perfect host family. And I made a whole bunch of close friends who I know I'll definitely be staying close to, and I ate a LOT of pastries, so I pretty much couldn't have asked for a better living experience. It's just so weird to think that it's over. It's hard to accurately sum up my feelings here. I'm sure the real poetic stuff will come when it hits me that I will no longer be sleeping in the room with the view of the garden and the canopy hanging over the bed.

Bon soir for now. More updates from Paris to come :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

je reviens (again)

I'm back to Bordeaux! And, even though I felt a little miserable and very panicky, I have to admit that unlike the events of a few weeks ago when people were truly stranded, this new little cloud of ash wasn't actually so bad. Of anywhere I could have been stuck in the same circumstances, Edinburgh was 100% easy.

It's a story for another time, but basically, after one taxi ride at 3am, one plane ride, one long bus ride, one Paris Metro ride (followed by an additional Paris metro ride because I had mistakenly gone to Gare du Nord instead of Montparnasse), one train ride, one tram ride, and one short walk, I made it back to Rue Naujac at 6 pm, where Joana and Ynel were happy to see me.

I have so much to say about these past two epic weeks in my life, but I want to take the time to really write it out well, and as these next two days will be full of packing and running around trying eat as many bordelaise pastries as possible, this isn't the time to write it out officially :/

But I think when I get home, I'll post a long, detailed account of my adventures, which will make for better reading than anything I try to write tonight.

I leave Bordeaux MONDAY, eek.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I had THE most amazing time in Edinburgh over the last few days. Except now I'm stranded here alone, which sucks more than I can say, especially because I take my leave of Bordeaux officially in approximately in only 4.5 days, and every extra moment I'm in Scotland is a moment away from my friends who are in France.