Monday, August 29, 2011

Many Days' Update

Been busy and super tired at night to update the blog everyday.

Sunday: At Sophie's we went in the afternoon to go buy our train tickets to Poitiers and then we came back and played halo and guitar hero with her dad and little brother. We took the TGV to Poitiers, but we had to sit in the awkward place between the cars because there wasn't any more room for my suitcases where you put the suitcases so we had to keep them in front of the doors, so we sat there. Plus someone was sitting in our seats, although we could have asked them to move. Sophie's boyfriend Guillaume was late picking us up so we sat in front of the train station. But out of nowhere this drunk old man sat near us and started talking to me. I didn't know what he was saying but I just said "ah oui?" just to replay with something, but Sophie told me he was saying really mean things about some of the people around us so now I wish I hadn't acknowledged him. We finally decided to get up and move to the other side of the front of the train station. Guillaume arrived and we drove straight to their new apartment because they were late in meeting the landlord to sign the papers and do the damage inspection. Then we went to Guillaume's to drop off some stuff and then we went to meet Sophie's friend from Tennessee who just arrived in Poitiers to study for the year. We had dinner at Quick (pretty much a french mcdonalds). Then we walked around downtown Poitiers a little and then we went bowling. I did pretty well actually. Then we got back late and went to bed around 2 am. The sleeping situation was a little tight because Guillaume only had 1 twin bed so they put the top part of his mattress on the floor and slept on that, and I slept on the bottom part.

Monday: Woke up early so Guillaume and Sophie could drop me off at Severine's before they went back to Niort because Sophie had to go to work. Severine wasn't there yet because she was getting her phone fixed but Sophie helped me get in her building and I just waited until she got there. Severine took me to meet her downstairs neighbors who are going to the U of O in a couple of weeks. Then we had lunch in the mall downtown and I was stupid and at the register I set down my tray with my sandwich on it and I lost balance of it when I was trying to pay and I dropped the tray and my sandwich on the floor. Fortunately the lady behind the counter gave me another, but I think she was a little annoyed. Then we went to the french walmart (Leclerc) to get some groceries since Severine was out of town for the weekend and didn't have much food. We ran to the university after and we saw Sylvie (my on-site coordinator from last year) and that was nice. I got to her office just as she was leaving to go somewhere and she saw me and said "Well I know you!" Had to remind her of my name though haha. She said the new students from Oregon were in their meeting with the bank lady and she brought us to meet them and a few of them asked us questions. During that time we met a girl from Portland who's looking for a permanent place to live and Severine was interested because her sister is looking for a roommate. When we left the university, Sev dropped me off downtown and I just walked around for 2 hours just being nostalgic. I ended up walking really far. But it was quite nice. Sev picked me up and we had dinner and then went downstairs to watch a movie with her neighbors. But before we watched the movie, I helped them call the electricity company in Eugene to help them get that set up. Unfortunately they wouldn't talk to me alone and put a useless translator on the line.

Today, Tuesday: Went to the mall with Sev to just do some window shopping, and looked into getting my nails filled, but they told me exactly what I was expecting: that they would have to redo the whole thing because "it's not the same product". Plus it's nearly 50 euros. Went back home for lunch because I wanted to save money. Later we met Melanie at the university to bring her to Thomas and Yasmine's so she could bind her report like Sev did a few days before. Then we returned to the university to pick up Ashley to show her Sev's apartment, and afterwards we were gonna drop her off in downtown but instead we went to roche d'argent (where I lived last year) to see if they had anything available. We had to leave her there because Melanie called and was waiting for us. A couple of Sev's friends were also in town to drop off their reports, so both of them and Melanie all stayed at Sev's overnight. We walked to Leclerc to get some stuff for breakfast and alcohol. Then we had a little soiree :)

Wednesday: Sev took everyone to the fac in the early afternoon and I stayed at the apartment. They were gone for quite a while. I still had a headache from the night before and was feeling tired so I took a 2.5 hour nap. In the evening we went to McDonald's with Thomas, Yasmine, and Maxime. McDonald's is a lot better in France than the US, and much more expensive too. They're amazed at the idea of a dollar menu. Then we went to the grocery store to get beer and went to Maxime's place to play pong.

wednesday: not much

Friday, August 26, 2011

Limoges to Poitiers/Niort/La Rochelle

Updates for the last 2 days since I was too tired/lazy to write a post for yesterday.


Melanie took me to the train station in Limoges and I took the train to Poitiers. I first sat down and then came along 2 smelly backpacker-looking and their dog who sat next to me. I kinda couldn't handle the smell and the dog constantly in my space so I finally moved away. Fortunately they got off at the first stop. Arrived in Poitiers and drug my suitcases down and up the stairs to the main lobby to see what platform I needed to be on for the train to Niort. Which sucked because it took me like 2 seconds to look and I had to turn around and repeat the suitcase-stairs process again and I think the second train arrived on the same platform as the train I was on before. On the train to Niort, there was this other backpacking smelly man. He was asking people around him to use their cellphones, but what's weird is that before arriving in Niort, he starting talking very loudly on a cellphone I believe was his. It went something like this:

"OUI JE SUIS DANS LE TRAIN.... EHHHHHHH.... NAN JE VIENS CHERCHER MA FEMME... EHHHH..." and so on. Unfortunately he was getting off in Niort like me.

Sophie and her dad were at the train station to pick me up. We got home and had tea and cookies with her mom after sharing awkward greeting kisses. I have a tendency to do the 2-cheek kiss going right side-left side. But everyone else wants to do it left side-right side. So I don't know how many times I've almost accidentally kissed people on the lips.

Then Sophie's boyfriend Guillaume came over to pick us up to meet some of her friends to have dinner at a nice pizzeria. Unfortunately it was rainy and quite cold. Guillaume is pretty adorable and hilarious. We had a good time at dinner. Everyone ordered a pizza except me because I knew it would be huge and covered in cheese. It's what I would have preferred at first, but I ordered a salad with raw salmon and avocados on it. And it was delicious, so I'm actually glad I didn't order the pizza.

Today I woke up at 9 to get ready to go to La Rochelle for the day with Sophie and her mom and brother. In La Rochelle we rented bikes and rode through town and out towards the shore and along it. I saw where I stayed in 2007 too. We stopped at a food stand out away from town and had chips (french fries) and sausages. I was worried about the weather on the way to La Rochelle because it started raining when we were in the car, but it ended being absolutely beautiful and not too hot. After we returned the bikes, we walked around La Rochelle a bit because there was a lot of market stuff going on. Sophie and I stopped to watch a dog trick show that made me want to die because it was so cute. Then we got ice cream and sat by the harbor. At 5 we met back up with Sophie's mom and brother and came back home. We had a lovely dinner of lamb and watched the french version of who wants to be a millionaire.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Last day in Limoges

Today we left the house around 2 to go to Melanie's brother's house to watch her niece and nephew while her brother went to an appointment. Unfortunately la petite Marie was with her nanny and wasn't feeling well, so I didn't get to see her again. But Camille and Alexandre are both very sweet kids. I think Camille is 10 or so and Alexandre looked about 8. We swam in the pool and then we spent the rest of the afternoon eating snacks and playing a few games of jungle speed and a couple games of "devine-tete" where you wear a card with the identity of a famous person on your head and ask yes or no questions of the others to guess who you are. After we left, we went to the mall to walk around a little while. We had lunch at home and hung out for a while before we went to downtown around 9:30 to have a drink.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Limoges again

Melanie and I got ready at our own pace today and we went to Leclerc (giant French grocery store) where I bought my favorite soup, and we went into this clothing store connected to the grocery store that sells this French brand of clothing called Little Marcel that I fell in love with... but sadly, it's pretty expensive. 10 euros for just a tiny change purse. 60 euros for a decent-sized purse. Then we went to the train station so I could buy my ticket to Niort for Friday. And then we drove around Limoges for a while because we had a hard time finding a place to park. But then we walked around Limoges and visited the cathedral, the botanical garden, the river, and this really old house that's leaning. We made friends with a very beautiful and quite friendly kitty. On our way back home we stopped by the cemetery which is enormous, with 40,000 graves and 200,000 people buried there. Many think it's the biggest in France but I read that it's not. But it was still very impressive. We got home and ate, watched tv, and then we watched French Kiss. Tomorrow we're going to babysit Melanie's nieces and nephew. Excited because Marie (the 2 year old) is especially adorable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First full day in Limoges

Slept in and we left the house around 3 to go shopping downtown. Walked around and went in various stores and I bought a new bath scrubbie thing because mine was starting to unravel. We went to a bakery where I bought my favorite raspberry tart and also to Monoprix, where I bought my favorite cheese, pasta, and sauce that I can't get in the states. I also bought a new sim card for my french cell phone since my old one expired. Around 5:30 to go back to the house, and stopped by a bakery so I could get some baguettes. We ate a little bit at the house, picked up some stuff and, we left to go pick up Melanie's mom from work. Last night her car got broken into and I'm pretty sure I heard the sound of shattered glass in the middle of the night. And it wasn't even her car, she was borrowing it from her boss I think. Then we went to Melanie's brother's house to visit. Melanie has the cutest niece I've pretty much ever seen. She's 2 and absolutely adorable. I think we might even be baby-sitting her and her 2 older siblings tomorrow or thursday. We came home and had leftovers from yesterday, and I had to say goodbye to Melanie's mom because she's leaving for a trip to the south tomorrow. Then we watched a french romantic comedy, which I really liked.

Monday, August 22, 2011

From Marseille to Limoges

Today I woke up in enough time to get ready to go to Limoges. Stephane had to work this morning so Sebastien took me to Marseille to see me off at the train station. Took the train from Marseille to Toulouse, which went pretty well. When I arrived in Toulouse, I was waiting to see which platform my train would arrive at, and this random guy walks by me and says "Do I know you?" and I was like umm no. I was kinda stumbling over my words, because I hate it when guys do this and it catches me off-guard. He wanted me number and I was I said I didn't have a mobile phone, and I said I was leaving Toulouse soon anyway. But I wanted to say "in your dreams"... these sleazy guys who always target me in France... it never fails. I don't even remember making eye contact with him. I think he finally got the message and walked away.

On the train to Limoges, I sat next to a lady who had her little girl who sat on her lap, and they kept moving between their assigned seat and open seats as people boarded the train. So naturally I was constantly having to get up to let them out and so on. Kinda annoying. Not to mention the trip seemed to take forever and it was burning up in the train. I was also starving, because I'd only eaten a sandwich I bought in Marseille and refused to buy another on the train because it's highway (railway?) robbery.

But it was great to finally arrive in Limoges. Melanie was there to pick me up and drove me to her place where I met her mom and the three of us had an excellent salad, wine, bread and cheese, and ice cream.

Tomorrow it sounds like we're just gonna chill and Melanie will show me around Limoges, since I've never been here before.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Updates for the last 2 days

It's been a little hard to update the blog daily since I've been doing so much stuff and it's all been going so quickly. Yesterday I kinda accidentally slept in til around 1:15, and I thought Stephane and Sebastien were still asleep so I took my time, but it turns out they were up before I was and were already outside having lunch when I finally emerged. So we had breakfast/lunch with their parents (consisting of an excellent quiche made with mushrooms that they picked in the Alps on their vacation) and freshly made apple juice from apples they picked in the Alps too. Then Stephane and I went to La Ciotat to the beach were we met his friends. It was absolutely gorgeous. After we swam we had a drink at a restaurant nearby (more specifically, we drank Pastis). Then we went back to Stephane's were we all showered and got ready to go out. Of course it didn't take the boys long to get ready, whereas it took me at least an hour and a half. We left Stephane's and drove to Marseille, had some dinner, and then we had several rounds of drinks at an outdoor cafe. Then we walked to The Shamrock, which is an Irish dance-bar on the old port in downtown Marseille. I had a Guinness on tap for the first time in a long time, because I refuse to drink it that way in the US. I also had several glasses of rosé and we danced a ton. I always wanted to sing along to the music because a majority of what they played was America music but the boys kept telling me to be quiet hahaa. But they thought it was funny. Then we went down the street to the Trolleybus, which I actually really liked. Unfortunately Stephane wasn't feeling well around this time and didnt stay long with us in the Trolleybus and I was a little worried about him, and his friend Alex went to get his car so he could rest. I got tired too and probably headed back to the car around 5 or 5:30. We had a little bit of problems when we left because Stephan wanted to drive, and we wouldn't let him. So Stephane went home with Sebastien (because Seb met us in Marseille), and Alex drove me back to Stephane's in Stephane's car. I have to mention also that I was so sad because when I was walking back to the car to rest, I slipped and scuffed up the one of the sides of my brand-new stilettos. Hopefully I can have them fixed. We got back to Stephane's at around 7 am. In France you go out around 10 or 11, even midnight, and don't get home until as late as 8 am. The sun was definitely rising by the time we got back home. But that's completely normal. I wish Americans partied that way.

Then I crashed until around 2 pm. Today was a relaxation day. Around 4 or so, Stephane and I went to his friend's house to lounge in his pool and then we came back and Stephane got ready to go to a soccer game. While he was gone, Sebastien and I went to his friend's girlfriend's house, who also runs a pizza stand, and we hung out with her family, ate a lot of baguette, sausage, amazing dried tomatoes in olive oil, and had awesome pizza... and drank a lot of rosé and had a great conversation with the girlfriend's family and we watched the soccer game that Stephane was at. Unfortunately no one won and the score was 0-0. They asked me if it was hard for me to talk in French so much and I said no, because it's good for me. Seb and I got back around midnight.

I had to say goodbye to Stephane because he has to get up early for work and Sebastien will take me to the train station tomorrow and it's off to Limoges.

photos here

Friday, August 19, 2011

Les Rencontres d'Arles Photographie

Today started rather comically. It was such a beautiful morning and Stephane has a magnificent view from his room, so I wanted to open the window and the shutters. But as I tried to open the shutters, I set off this crazy security alarm to the house, waking everyone up. It was embarrassing but hilarious. I had no idea or else I wouldn't even have touched it. But they told me it was completely fine. I joked in saying that it was an "American wake-up call". hahaha Then Sebastien and I had breakfast with his parents and we drove to Arles, taking a little detour to drive through Aix-en-Provence, a town I was in in 2006 and absolutely adore. We arrived in Arles and bought our tickets to the exposition and I think we may have visited about 10. The expositions were located all over downtown, so we did a lot of walking. We met up with Stephane after he finished work and saw another big exposition. When we finished, we had a beer, and then went looking for a place to have dinner. Seb told me had a place in mind, but I think they didn't have a place to sit outside, so we ate at a really good Italian place, but before we went to get another drink because there was an hour wait. That's when I had a conversation with a woman from New York and her husband (I forgot where he was from) because I heard them speaking English and they saw me having some difficulties with the mosquitoes that were biting me, and they offered me (first in French) some mosquito repellant. I told them I was from Oregon and the husband called his friend who lives in France because he was from Pendleton and we talked on the phone, because the man was so stoked that he ran into another Oregonian. Dinner was fantastic and I felt like it was really authentically Italian because the employees were Italian. I had tiramisu, which wasn't cake like in the US, but more like cream with cinnamon on top and a little bit of a cake part underneath. We drove back to Peypin. Tomorrow we plan on going to the beach, maybe meeting Milena at some point, coming back to Peypin to get ready, and then going to a night club either in Marseille or in Toulon... not sure yet.

photos here

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to Europe

Today started quite nicely as both my parents and Luke and his family came to say goodbye to me. Although I went through security a little late on the other side of the airport and had to slightly rush to get to the side where my gate was located. Turns out I had to wait on the side because if you check in online, you have to have your documents verified by an agent at the airport. So I basically tried to avoid waiting in lines, just to end up waiting at the gate while everyone else boarded and the people at the gate desk took their time to verify my documents.

Arrived in Amsterdam after a pretty decent 10 hour flight. I made a new friend who sat next to me, and he was happy to have someone to talk to since he was flying for the first time and was a little nervous. The food on the flight wasn't bad either. When I arrived on Amsterdam I couldn't see any screens to know where the boarding gate for my next flight was. So I tried to use this kiosk which only printed me a piece of paper saying the service wasn't available and that I needed to find a service desk. None in sight. So I just walked until I finally found the screens. Then security for whatever reason thought it would be hilarious to scan my carry-on suitcase about 3 times and make me open it up and take stuff out for them to inspect it. I've never had this problem before, and they said it was just because I had things they normally don't see. But still, I absolutely hated watching them take my stuff out and put it in those disgusting bins that everyone put their stuff in to get through security.

Paris went pretty smoothly. But once again I had issues printing my boarding pass. And security was much better too. And I'm so thankful I landed and departing in the same terminal, because with only one hour and 15 minutes between flights, I was kinda stressing.

Arrived a little late in Marseille, and Sebastien was there to pick me up. We drove back to Peypin. We spent the afternoon hanging out by their pool. Stephane came home later in the evening and we had dinner of roasted goat and ratatouille, which was delicious, with their parents.

Tomorrow Sebastien and I are going to Arles for a photography exposition and I think Stephane will meet up with us when he is off work. And I think we'll spend the rest of the evening there as well.