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Posts from the ‘France’ Category

Au Revoir, Until We See Each Other Again

Je marche dans les rues/Le Bon Dieu dans ma poche/Je marche dans la grande ville/Et je n’ai plus froid/La terre est mon amie/Et je suis toujours un étranger/A la gare internationale. -Raphael “Adieu Haiti”

So it is official: I no longer can call Paris my home (thus the name change for this blog). After leaving Greece, Alana and I returned to Paris to get luggage before heading to London. My last few hours in Paris were perfect and depressing. Alana went about her errands and I went about mine. I went to my neighborhood in the 5th to say goodbye one last time. I went to my cafe, Le Saint Medard. My waiter came and took my order: a Monaco (aka the best beer mixed drink ever invented. Recipe: blonde beer, grenadine, and limonade) and a chevre (goat cheese) salad. When he brought me my Monaco he asked (in French): Are you British? Me: No. Him: American? Me: Yes. Him: Where are you from? Me: California. Him: Do you speak Spanish? Me: No. Him: Why not? Me: Because I studied French. Him: (Laughs). At least people don’t think I have an American accent. But when he brought me my salad he said: “Pour ma belle americaine” (for my beautiful American). I think this was the perfect last phrase to hear from a French man and way to end my stay. I finished my food (a very long lunch) then went and got gelato and took an extended stroll in the Jardin des Plantes (all the while remembering how everything had looked six months earlier). I will always be an American (thank God) and I don’t mind the belle description.

This abroad experience was one of the best and most intense, frightening, interesting, uncomfortable, challenging and fun experiences of my life. Waking up everyday and not hearing any English, all of my classes and work in French, babysitting, teaching English, and taking a French university class, yet in retrospect I wouldn’t have had a less crazy or busy life because I learned and always saw and heard something interesting wherever I was. It was hard to say goodbye to Paris. I really think that it is the best city that I have ever visited in the world and I feel extremely blessed that I had the chance to live, learn and just be there. You might leave Paris, but Paris does not leave you.

So enough with this sappy rubbish (as the Brits would say), let’s talk London. I have been in London for seven days now and have seen sights, started taking class (so much reading, but in English = so much faster) and have seen Boy George sing “Harma Chameleon” (more on that story later). I am going to post a few photos of London and call it a night soon. Expect more stories soon. Top of the night to you (because what is exactly is the top of the morning?)

Taller than Churchill

Tower Bridge

And a quick note on this photo, remember when Hugh Grant said, “I think I love you” in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral well that was on this promenade:

Summer in the City

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Czech, Czech, Czech It Out!

These first two photos are not from Prague. After leaving Corsica we took a ferry to Nice and as we had a few hours before the train we went to the beach (and it was far busier than March):

Find a Seat

The TGV ride back to Paris was nice because it went along the Riviera and then through Provence, note the lavender:

Fields of Purple

The next day Alana and I and Victor (because we couldn’t get rid of him) got on a plane to Prague. Yes, I know the title to this entry is extremely witty (the number of times we made this joke while there was not witty):

Foggy View from the Castel

The weather in Prague was significantly cooler than Corsica and Nice (and I am now back to beach weather in Greece which is very nice). Prague was an interesting city to explore for a few days and a lot of it reminded me of Ukraine, L’viv in particular, which I wrote a separate blog on: http://ltca3232.wordpress.com/lviv-sights-and-sounds-the-things-according-to-me-you-should-see/ and I was able to understand quite a bit and communicate using Ukrainian.

We stayed at the Clown and Bard hostel (it was okay) and we had about a 15 minute walk into old town and we would always pass the Powder Tower:

Powder Tower

Right next to the tower is the Municipal House which is a beautiful building inside and out. We went to a classical concert one night inside the building (it is actually amusing because people try and sell concert tickets here as much as junk in other cities) :

Pretty Glass

Classy Classical

From the Municipal House it is an easy walk to the heart of the city, where there is a cool astronomical clock, churches and old beautiful buildings:

What Time is It?

Main Square

Main Square 2

And of course, there are plenty of gift shops with beautiful glass and the homage to a certain writer:

Kafka

After seeing the center, follow the crowds and you will find the Charles Bridge. It is an impressive bridge especially when you realize that it was built in the 1400s.

View of the Charles

There are plenty of vendors on the bridge as well as musicians (these guys were good):

Music

We crossed the river a few times and then relaxed on a bench with a beautiful view of the Prague Castle:

River Bench

As far as cuisine, Czech cuisine is a bit heavy, think goulash and lots of meats (good wintertime food). Now, let’s talk beer. Pilsner Urquell is the one of the oldest Czech beers and it is a good beer. But after a few days of good beer I am always up for some exploration, so we went to the beer house and ordered sour cherry, banana and nettle beer. They were all interesting and well they all tasted like what was promised:

Pivo

We spent a good part of one day at the Prague Castle which is really a fort-like structure with many different buildings (castles included), it is really like its own city. St. Vitus is the large cathedral when you first enter:

St. Vitus

The Golden Lane is a small street with even smaller houses. Franz Kafka lived in one of these for a year:

Golden Lane

There are lovely gardens as well, so we strolled:

Viney View

Also while in Prague we went to the Communist Museum and below is Wenceslas Square where a lot of protests took place which helped with downfall of communism:

By the Horse

I’ll post about Greece in the coming days. Cheers!

But of course, this is Corse!

After five sunny days in Paris we took the TGV down to Marseille. It was a fast train ride and we had lunch. It was a very hot day but not knowing when / if ever I would be in Marseille again, I had to try a bouillabaisse (traditional fish and vegetable stew) for lunch, and it was tasty even if it was looking back at me:

Bad Day to be a Crab

Marseille is France’s second largest city and a major port city. We were there because of the port. We decided to take an overnight ferry to Bastia, Corsica.

Port

It was a nice ferry ride. The ferry was more of a mini cruise ship and on the way out of Marseille we got a nice view of Chateau d’If (where the Count of Monte Cristo was fictionally imprisoned):

Monte Cristo

We arrived in Corsica very early in the morning and were greeted by the island lifestyle (buses, trains and transportation on the island aren’t practical, you really need a car to get around):

Corsica Cat

But I must say, I enjoyed the island lifestlye. Corsica also has a lot of regional products such as wild boar meat, goat cheeses, Cap Corse (an apertif) and its own Cola:

This isn't Coca

Bastia is a port city and it has a nice Old Port and I found it to be a pretty city:

Pink Flowers, Blue Sky

Bastia

Vieux Port

There is a citadel up on the hill and you can walk down onto some cliffs through a passageway:

Passage

We decided to go on a coastal bike ride (and that was tiring but the views were worth it). We stopped in Erbalunga and Miomo, both towns had old fortress towers along the coast:

All this beauty

Blue Water

The Beach

La Vie Est Belle

America is my country and Paris is my hometown. -Gertrude Stein

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast. – Ernest Hemingway

I am writing from the Czech Republic this evening where it is rainy and I am looking back on five sunny days in Paris (some of my last days in Paris). Victor came to visit so I got to play tour guide but this time I inserted things in the tour that I had yet to do. For example the Tour Montparnasse which is a 56 or so story building with a nice view of all of Paris:

Bird View

Towering

Went to see Sacre Coeur and there were plenty of street musicians and tourists wandering:

White Wall

We walked Pigalle (aka the seedy street of Paris) and I was offered free entrance into a “club” but I declined.

Moulin Rouge

We also went to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont which was very cool and had a neat cliffs and waterfalls.

Waterfall

We also spotted the ever-amazing phenomenon of night rollerblading in the streets of Paris (the best part is the police drive first to make sure no one is on the streets):

Night Skate

Strolled the Jardin des Plantes and went to the menagerie there:

What are you doing in Paris?

Champ de Mars view of the tower:

Sunshine

And my stay in Paris was complete because I found the one statue that was still on my list near Les Halles:

Life in Paris is Complete

Cheers! I am going to have another Pilsner tomorrow and see more of Prague.

Lounging in Lyon

After a few terrific days we flew to Lyon, the culinary capital of France, where we did not go undernourished. Lyon is one of France’s largest cities and also one of the oldest. All of the bridges were destroyed during WWII but now have been rebuilt and they added lights:

Lyon under the lights

And here is a daytime view:

Daytime View

On the top of the above pictured hill is a beautiful church (I will be the first to admit I don’t like going to look at churches anymore because they have all started to look somewhat the same) but this church is unique because it is dedicated to Virgin Mary and the entire inside of the church is covered in mosaic:

Tiled Up

After leaving the church I was a bit baffled,”Eiffel Tower, what are you doing here?” But as it turns out this wannabe is a radio transmission tower:

There's Another!

Lyon has impressive Roman ruins and a nice museum which explains the history. I thought it was cool when I found out that the amphitheater is still used today and they actually have an amazing summer line-up of concerts featuring performers like Tracy Chapman.

Roman Ruins

Since my parents were blessed with beautiful weather during their trip, I profited with ice cream. We tried some rose flavored gelato while in Lyon and it was amazing. The place is called Nardone and their selection of flavors is amazing and added bonus, they are open late.

Calm, Warm Days

Now I must describe the meal which will live on forever as legend among my parents and I. This four course meal at the restaurant Le Tire Bouchon (corkscrew) started off with the holy trilogy of French cuisine: frog legs, snails and goose liver. Which are all unique and quite tasty. Then we moved onto the main course. I had some perfectly cooked lamb leg in a raspberry cream sauce. This course was followed by the cheese course (I was so full already). And the cheese was followed by dessert. I think this may have been the most tiring meal of my life. But good thing we had done a lot of walking earlier in the day (in the hipster section of town). I spotted some cool street art on our walk:

Love is a Unique Sense/Feeling

Thinking of all of this food makes me tired. If you get a chance to spend a day or two in Lyon, go. The food is wonderful (and the average restaurant is much more reasonably priced than Paris) and the people are also pleasant.