Archive for July, 2012

France – The Last Days

July 29, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer, so my blog is going on vacation too, back to May 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I’m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home*

Apparently I got bored blogging about my trip to France so I never finished.  If you are bored at this point too, don’t worry, this is the last post.

Here are the pictures of Mont Saint-Michel.  Which really needs no words anyway. It’s still one of my favorite places to visit in France.

very funny, David

Maza loved it too. She didn’t want to leave.

I assume after this, we went back to Rennes and got our stuff and got on a plane because I spent the next year and a half in California before moving to Paris. I think we flew out of Lille? Who knows. 
I do know that David tried to make it up to Maza for leaving her for almost two weeks with catnip and cat grass. Didn’t work.

France Day 12 – Pink Granite Coast

July 28, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer, so my blog is going on vacation too, back to May 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I’m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home*




Our final road trip in a car was to the coast of Bretegne which is famous for having tons of pink granite. It was lovely, but too cold to swim. And of course, I forgot my bathing suit at David’ s friends house. The last place we are going, Mont Saint Michel, doesn’t have elevators and it’s built on a mountain so we left almost everything in Rennes.


The hotel bumped us up to a better room because there was a convention and they wanted the whole floor to themselves.
 
The view totally sucked.


 


The scale in the bathroom was the best part. It told me I had lost ten pounds. I knew it was just a marketing trick to make me fall in love with the hotel, but I fell for it anyway. I knew it was exaggerating and lying to me, but it was ok. I’ll pretend to believe.
 
Truth be told, I did weigh myself when I got home and because of all the freakin’ walking and dragging of overpacked suitcases and never ending stair master mountain I had lost six pounds. Yay France.
 
I sulked for a while (ok a long time) because I wanted to go swimming in the indoor pool. Finally I sucked it up, put on a blue and white polka dot underwear set that was the closest thing I had to a bathing suit, covered up with a robe and went down to the pool to see if anyone was there. No one was so I jumped in. Swimming alone in my underwear in a fancy hotel was way more uncomfortable than swimming naked with 500 strangers.
 
We had crepes for dinner. There was an elderly couple across from us and the husband was so kind to her. You could tell he still loved her very much. It was sweet, and at that second I would have traded places with her in a heart beat.
 
I don’t know if it was the bed or I was just really tired, but I fell asleep and slept for 12 straight wonderful hours. I think Rosemary was right. Two weeks is the perfect amount of time for Europe. It’s not as relaxing as I thought it was going to be. All this traveling unpacking and packing and picking out what to wear and what to eat and when to eat is actually work. Much more of this and I would need a week on the beach to recover. Preferable a nude beach so I won’t have to worry about what to pack.

France Day 11 – African/American

July 27, 2012




*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer, so my blog is going on vacation too, back to May 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I’m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home*



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After another Bullet Train Trip, we arrive in Renne, which is where David lived before he moved to California. Now before I get into all the fun and adventures of day eleven, let me explain my idea of being on time for a train, and David’s idea of being on time.
In my mind, if I make it onto the train before it departs, even if it’s already moving, I’m on time.

 In David’s mind he has to be at the platform an hour early and be the very first person to set foot on the train in order to be on time. See how there could be some friction there?

I have missed many, many a train in my life. In fact I’ve missed Planes Trains and Automobiles.

David however, never has. We are especially lucky to be incorporating David’s train riding method, because the next day the trains won’t be running because of a (scheduled) strike.



Renne is less impressive and less stressful than Paris so I LOVE IT. I don’t feel like I should be taking pictures all the time or rushing to the next national monument. This is a relief because my eyeballs are full.








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We stop and check on David’s condo which is smaller than I imagined. It’s a great place but I’m realizing that everything in France is small and economical. The cars, the hotels, the closets, the cafes, the stores, the food, the refrigerators.

I guess I am just used to american size mass consumption, and speaking of which I brought WAY too many clothes, which is annoying, but what’s really annoying is thinking about the tons of clothes I left at home that I obviously can do without.


The only thing in France that I notice is wasteful is that nobody drinks tap water? What’s wrong with tap water? Californias is filled with prozac and fire retardants and I still drink it. Hmmmmm. Maybe that’s what’s missing on this trip…… my daily dose of tainted H2O….




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We wonder around and stop at a park where I write some postcards (including one for Maza) and then leave for the suburbs where David’s old neighbors live in a beautiful three story house with these three adorable creatures:





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The youngest keeps calling me confusing the words American and African, so she keeps referring to me as “The African”.
We have a delicious bbq outside and then everyone starts yawning, which is odd because it’s still very light out. But it’s really 9:30, so we all go to bed.

France Day 9 and 10 – Mama Mia Let Me Go

July 26, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer, so my blog is going on vacation too, back to May 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I’m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home*


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I hadn’t slept well the night before because I was nervous about meeting David’s Mom, and frankly Paris and traveling in general was getting overwhelming. I’m a homebody at heart and for almost ten days I had been running all over France. So, I slept in while David went to pick up his Mom, brother and their significant others from the train station. His Mom was very much like my mom, meaning she was very kind and friendly and down to earth. We saw a lot of great art on Saturday, went to Montmartre,
Visite de Nicolas,
Bateau Mouche de Nuit
etc, etc

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It It was VERY crowded every where we went.

I didn’t even end up writing anything down, it was so hectic. The only thing I have for these two days was a very cranky quote. “Took subway ten million time & walked around taking pictures w/ ten billion other tourists. No crazies/drunks/beggers.” I’m such a joy to travel with! But in my defense we had an entourage of six people trying to collectively make a decision about where to go what to eat etc etc and my stupid ass didn’t speak any French so David had to translate A LOT. I was homesick and I missed my cat and my apartment and english. So Saturday I skipped dinner and took a bath and read a book and just spent some time alone. Sunday after David’s family left we had dinner with Kieu-Vy and David’s best friend Nicholas, and then we bid them farewell and it was just the two of us again. We took a boat ride on the Siene. So romantic……….. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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France Day 8 – Versailles and the Eiffel Tower

July 25, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer, so my blog is going on vacation too, back to May 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I’m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home*

 
 David’s friend Kieu-Vy, who had interned at his company with him in Nevada City, met up with us to go to Versailles. 
 
 Even thought it was Friday, the line to get in was long. Probably about an hour.


Luckily we brough lunch.

  And I can always entertain myself by taking pictures of my feet.








Don’t even think about stealing anything.





































Then we hopped on the subway again and went to the Eiffel Tower. Without which there would be no Ferris Wheel’s because the year after The World Fair was held in Paris and the Eiffel Tower was revealed, it was held in Chicago and they needed something to top it. Voila…. Mr. Ferris invented the Ferris Wheel, which most people refused to set foot on. 


Weird the things you learn reading true crime novels about the worlds first known serial killer.





Afterwards Kieu-Vy took us to her favorite restaurant, which was cozy, delicious and all the staff where really friendly and nice. When she the waiter came to take our order, all five of the men who worked there stopped and watched her. She didn’t notice but they all obviously adore her. She is sassy and stylish, and freakin’ adorable.


It was great hanging out with someone who has lived in Paris her whole life. It was like going to San Francisco when Alex and Vivek lived there. It made me feel like I lived there too.



I think this was chicken?



David ordered Steak Tartare
 

I ordered Kieu-Vy’s favorite, Duck Rose’. She had steak tartare too, but hers was grilled on the outside a little bit. It tasted better.

 
 
 
 



That’s a lot of parking tickets


France Day 7 – Crazy Horse By Metro

July 24, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer/paint brush/box/dirty apartment. So my blog is taking a vacation too. Back to June 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I”m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home.

our hotel room is my favorite number, weird

  

 






  

Strange to think that I had such a nice relaxing time in Lyon I was sad to leave the countryside, and was not as excited as I thought I would be to go to Paris.

We kissed everyone good bye twice (right cheek first) and Regis dropped us off at the train station.


David booked the D-Zen car which is the quiet one for old folks. There’s no talking and it really is zen-like. The D-Zap is the party car for young people. Apparently I am getting old because I preferred the silence. 


Our hotel was adorable. It has a teeny tiny elevator, which only fits one person with a suitcase. The Metro is right across the street and there is a cafe below us that brings up coffee and croissants every morning.


I was sitting out in the hallway on the spiral stairs trying to get the wi-fi to work, and a cranky, weird American man comes out and tells me that he is living in the hotel while he waits to get his security deposit back from his apartment which is taking a long time, and then he’s moving back to California after living in France for twenty years. He was on his way to the lobby because that’s apparently the only place the wi-fi works.

He told me, “The French are morons. Nothing works right here.They have the technology, they just don’t use it.” And then SUPER SNOOTY he informs me, “Great hotel though. Usually only French people stay here”.

  

I gave up on connecting to internet and went back into our room and instead of throwing my laptop against the wall, which is what I REALLY want to do, I threw it on the bed as hard as I could and it bounced right off and landed on the floor and made a crack in the corner. Ouch…. poor laptop. But tossing it released all these pent up frustrations, and the realization that I am turning into a two year old is a wake up call, and I actually feel better. And I’m really glad David wasn’t there to witness it.

 
BULLSHIT
We had tickets to The Crazy Horse and I asked David how far away it was and he told me five minutes. So I put on my black high heels. What David didn’t tell me is that it’s five minutes by subway, which means tons of walking down down down stairs and then up up up. Thank god I brought miracle band-aids made especially for blisters. I put one on when we got back and it stayed put and I didn’t feel my blister the entire rest of the trip.
The Crazy Horse was fun. We were too tired to go out before it started, so we had champagne that is included in the ticket price for dinner while watching the show. 


The girls are almost all the exact same (perfect) size and symmetry down to their dime sized nipples. The lights actually put straight lines across them and heads, shoulders, knees and toes, everything matched. This isn’t normal stripping either. The things they do are crazy athletic and almost physically impossible. The light show on top of everything turns them into halograms and it was like they weren’t even real anymore, just computer graphics. It was beautiful. And David liked it too. Cause he’s into art and dance and stuff. Heh. 


A Japanese business man sitting alone next to us fell asleep in the middle of the show. He woke up and left and the waiter asked us if we wanted the rest of his mostly full bottle of champagne. We said yes. Who turns down free champagne?



*edit 2012 – As if traveling with a very unseasoned grumpy pants wasn’t bad enough, I forced David to listen to this song ten thousand times while we were in Paris


France Day 6 – The Frog

July 23, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer/paint brush/box/dirty apartment. So my blog is taking a vacation too. Back to June 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I”m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home.
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I woke up really late because France has these blackout shutters, so I always thinks it’s still night time.

David thought I was just tired so he let me sleep. He even kept Leanne from jumping on the bed, because he was probably scared I would hurt the poor girl, but he doesn’t know I have a soft spot for kids. Even before my coffee. Especially quirky ones that may be Janis Joplin reincarnated.

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Nanou had already gone to work, but she had left something for me. The night before, I had admired her necklace and I guess instead of waiting around for me to steal it, she decided to give it to me. I wanted to give it back, she just met me and she doesn’t need to give me the jewelry from around her neck, but that seemed rude or ungrateful, plus it was super cute and I hadn’t brought any jewelry because I didn’t want to have to worry about anything. So that was a lovely way to start the day.



We went for a long hike around a lake behind the house. We were so chilled out we forgot we were supposed to be tourists and left the camera at home, so I don’t have any pictures except the ones that David’s brother sent.


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Regis showed me his black market wine and jay-walked on the way home. He also gets his cigars from Spain. Apparently laws are for everyone BUT policemen.
 

And I discovered why Nanou and I get along. She has a pet she likes to torture too. And she likes to take pictures of the torture she puts Roxy through just like I do. 
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“Emily please don’t post that picture Nanou took of me on the worldwide web!”

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Sorry Rox!

Then it was dinnertime…… 

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Although Leanne couldn’t figure out why even though I was bigger than her I still hadn’t learned how to speak properly yet, she was still nice to me and held my hand and sat next to me in the car.

 

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Leanne had what evey other kid in the world eats at restaurants. But she had her chicken nuggets and fries with mayonnaise. And she ate them with a fork 


We ordered up big family size platters of frogs legs. They were herb-encrusted and and they were YUMMY. Delicious. Of course, anything covered in garlic and butter tastes good Frogs have the light texture of fish but with the mellow flavor of chicken. The odd thing was, even though this was the first time I had tried them (so how would I know if I liked them or not), I didn’t order something else in case they were disgusting. It was like I just knew my mouth and frogs legs would get along.
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This looks good, no? 

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France Day 5 – Escargot Train…

July 22, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer/paint brush/box/dirty apartment. So my blog is taking a vacation too. Back to June 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I”m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home.


 
Leaving the south of France was hard. Swimming and seafood are too of my favorite things. But we ditched the car and climbed aboard the Bullet Train.
 
Trains are so romantic. My i-pod started playing only sad songs. “Don’t You Forget About Me” came on, which reminded me of Maza and the scratch on my hand she gave me to remember her by while I was gone. I looked out the window and thought deep thoughts and came up with all sorts of philosophical bullshit ideas.
 
I think it all stemmed from the night before when I almost forgot my Visa card at the gas station, and then I was rushing around packing and tripped over my laptop cord and broke David’s wall adaptor.

Instead of getting mad, like a normal person, David made a joke and said I “need to stop being so violent” and practice Jedi mind tricks like, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Which was funny, but he’s right. I am always so impatient I never savor the moment. 



One of the last things my dad said to me was, “Stop reading that book and enjoy the scenery”. We were on our way back from camping in Monterey, and I was completely oblivious to the beautiful views and the man sitting beside me. And instead of relishing the fact that I had him all to myself for once, with no other sisters competing for his attention, I was off in my own little world, which is always there, unlike real moments in time.
 

I had also been chatting with my mom about how France was going and she told me I need to stop trying to make my vacation like my normal life and have a better sense of humor about the problems I was encountering. I am used to being alone a lot of the time, snacking all day instead of eating real meals, instant gratification and constant stimulation and a fast-paced nine hour day at work. My mom told me that I was acting like a child, but in such a sneaky way that I thought it was MY observation. 




 
So, while on a train going 230 miles per hour, I thought about how I need to slow down, and not be so hard on myself and other people. And like magic the world slowed down and I could enjoy the scenery tree by tree. And then it slowed down even more so I could enjoy branch by branch. Then it slowed down even more and I started to notice the world leaf by leaf. 



Then they announced “De 30 mn on passe a indetermine” and the train completely stopped in the middle of no where.
 
Our train was 56 minutes late, which means the price of our tickets was refunded. France doesn’t tolerate late trains. I wish Amtrak had this policy. I would probably get a refund half the time I took it.

David’s brother, father and his father’s girlfriend met us at the station and we went to lunch. Breakfast had been half a banana, so when we finally ate at 1:30 I was STARVING. David’s family spent lunch putting weird shit in my mouth, watching my reaction, and then telling me what I had just eaten. Good times!



 
Christian gave me some of her chicken and beef livers. Blech. David’s dad had me try some of his meal, which was sausage made of pig inards, eh just tasted like sausage I guess. Pigs cheeks “joie” from Regis’ plate was chewy and weird, and blood sausage from David’s plate was the same color as chocolate cake, had the same texture and didn’t really taste meaty at all. Just really rich. I didn’t mind that they wanted to laugh at my expense. I thought it was sweet that they shared food from their plates with me. When David and I eat out, we always switch plates at some point or at least try each others food. My sister almost didn’t marry her husband because he eats like a prisoner and guards his plate and doesn’t want anyone touching it. 


The sculptor forgot the stir-up so he got sent to the guillotine

 
Then we walked around Lyon. We climbed up a huge hill to visit a church. I lit a candle for my Grandmother, who was Catholic and then we headed to the suburbs of Lyon, to stay with Regis and his wife Nanou and their daughter Leanne.


Maza got sick of walking and had a temper tantrum

striking about the price of gas or something


 
 It was nice to be in a house and out in the countryside where it is all green like Vermont. We had apertifs (pastis for me please!) and a great home cooked meal that consisted of pasta and cheese so there was no more hanky panky like at lunch. David’s father doesn’t speak a word of english, but he showed me all sorts of magic tricks to do in bars, and I am looking forward to trying to get free drinks with them.
 

France Day 4 – I See Nekid People

July 20, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer/paint brush/box/dirty apartment. So my blog is taking a vacation too. Back to June 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I”m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home.



We wake up to this:
 

 

YAY!


 

 
We went to the beach and ate lunch which was even better than it looks. David believes heaven without sex is better than nothing. I didn’t agree, but today I’m reconsidering. If heaven exists, the south of France is where you go when you die. I’m thinking about turning in my atheist card and becoming a Catholic just in case. 
 
 
 

    


    
 
 
 
After stuffing ourselves with food, we went to a great place to go when you are feeling fat….A nude beach.

It was finally warm enough to go swimming, well, warm enough for us anyway, we were almost the only people in the water. The theme to Jaws kept running through my head and I got a little freaked out when I realized the water I was in was over my head and my fat little toes were probably beackoning deliciously to all the sharks, but by keeping David close I manage to enjoy myself by convincing myself that David looks like a bigger yummier seal than me. Yes, I KNOW there are no sharks but I’ve been scarred for life by Jaws.


Le Cap d’Adge is a nudist colony, with hotels, supermarkets etc etc. We just went for the day. Swimming in the mediterranean sea surrounded by 500 nekid, very tan old French people is not somewhere I ever imagined I would find myself. But it’s not bad.


I was too busy finding shells to notice if any dirty old men were ogling me, but I don’t think they were. I know from going to hot springs that wearing clothes when everyone else is naked, makes you stand out. So I tossed off my dress and my puritanical American roots, and tried to blend in. Plus skinny dipping is so much more slippery than swimming in a bathing suit. It makes me feel like a fish. 


We met TonTon and David’s Aunt for dinner. I was skeptical, but I ordered the fish soup. It comes with croutons and creme fraiche, so how bad could it be?

orange fish soup, delicious 

France Day 3 Rain Rain Rain

July 19, 2012

*I’m on vacation, hopefully far away from a computer/paint brush/box/dirty apartment. So my blog is taking a vacation too. Back to June 2008, during my first trip to France with my shiny brand new passport and my shiny brand new French boyfriend. This was my first trip abroad and I”m surprised David didn’t dump me when we got home.


 

 

 
Not only is it raining, but since it is Sunday almost ALL the stores are closed in ALL OF FREAKIN’ FRANCE because the whole country is Catholic or something.

Because we are in a resort town and there are exceptions for places with tourists, the store across the street was open for a couple hours, but before we could go over and get a roasted chicken for lunch, (which I want to try because a woman who wrote a book about living in France went on and on about it) the store closed for the afternoon and we were too hungry to wait for it to re-open, so we had a lunch at the hotel restaurant, chilled for a while and then went to Frontignan, about forty minutes away, where David’s uncle Bernard and aunt Annie live.



  
 
Ok, let me just get this out of the way. MOM YOU WERE RIGHT. I should have listened to you and practiced French. Lord knows David gave me books, cd’s and finally put a French language program on his nintendo DS in an effort to get me to study. But did I??? NO. Because I am lazy. And French is hard to learn. It made me feel really stupid.. But you know what made me feel even MORE stupid? Not knowing basic simple phases and sitting there like a little kid while the adults talked.

I did read about ten non-fiction books about France, so it’s not like I am a complete idiot. And I do know how to say, “Je no parle pas Francais. Kind of.
 
When we arrived David’s drop dead sexy cousin, who is a police officer, was on her way to work. She was wearing the coolest police shirt. David’s uncle told me to call him TonTon which is “uncle” and he offered me something called Pastis. It’s a liquor made with anise. You poor it into a little glass and it’s amber colored, and then you add water and it turns into the color of milky tea. Then you add two little ice cubes. Screw wine…… this is my new apertif of choice. It’s like being a mad scientist doing a lab experiment. It tastes like black jelly beans.

After apertifs we had dinner, which was a full five course homemade French dinner. TonTon made this shredded carrot salad which I loved even though I normally hate carrots. We drove home, in the rain of course,