Paris Paris Paris

Hello everyone!

I’ll start by apologizing for not updating you sooner on all the neat things I have been doing. My trip here is not at all typical as I have some stuff to take care of before I can really see the sights. I have been looking for an apartment and a job so as that takes a long time and is a lot more complicated than in Canada. With that on the go and in between those times I have been walking around all of Paris. I figure that I have all the time in the world to see the big sights like the louvre and the Eiffel Tower so I have been walking the streets to get to know the city. The weather has been a bit crap with lots of rain and a little chilly wind, so seeing the outdoor monuments would have been no fun anyways. I am starting to understand the plan of Paris a little better and get an idea of where I want to live.

I have been making a mental list of things I like about the city and the people and some things that are just downright surprising. I will now share them with you:

1. The food is absolutely delightful – a quick meal is always fresh baguette with veggies and cheese, and there are plenty of places to get fresh juices. It is very expensive but at least you know that you are getting quality products to eat.

2.  The people are not as fashionable as anywhere else. Plain and simple, I think this idea is old world. There was probably a time where everyone in Paris was dressed to the nines all the time, but now it has changed. The people are dressed in different brands but they pretty much look the same as anywhere else. There is one exception though – HIGH HEELS – sooo many high heels. I am going to have to buy a pair of French heels to see if they are as comfortable as they make them seem. (I am very doubtful of this as you can imagine)

3. The architecture is beautiful. I love just walking here because all the streets are interesting. Old buildings with fancy doorknobs and little balconettes line the seemingly unplanned streets. Every couple of blocks the roads come to forks and break off into branches, welcoming new alleys and paths to wander in. The cobblestone ground and old buildings really make for a charming city.

4. The poo. Why is it okay to let your dog dump on the sidewalk and then to walk away from it? This I will never understand. Doesn’t it get stuck in your high heels?

5. The people: So far I have had no problem with the people. Everyone has been extremely nice to me and always offers to help out. I don’t know how the French got such a bad rap for being rude, but they really aren’t.

6. Paris is said to be a romantic city, and for me this has proven to be a bit odd. Three times in the last week I have been stopped in the street and asked out for coffee, told I was pretty and asked if I wanted to “get to know each other.” Although very flattered, I was a bit taken a back. The men here really have no problem with just waltzing up to a woman and asking her out. How do they know I’m not crazy or something of that sort? More to the point, how do I know they aren’t crazy? Oh the questions of life.

So there is a mini list of some things I have noticed so far. I’m sure I will have many more to share with you as time goes on.

To give you a little update on other things, Thibaut’s family is absolutely amazing. I’ve spent a lot of time with his mom, doing everyday stuff and we all eat dinner every night together. I love staying here and it is very comfortable. I really could not have asked for a better situation to start my stay in this incredible city.

On the agenda this week is hopefully The Louvre, with a mixture of being hired some where and having a place to live for Juin combined.

I want to thank you all for reading about my adventures and also wanted to remind you that you can throw your email in the subscription box to the right and then you will receive an email every time I write something new. I know a lot of you are checking every couple of days and as I haven’t been writing as diligently, this may be easier for you. Whatever you like! (You won’t get spam email or anything it will just be updates from my blog)

Hope everyone at home is doing splendidly!

Love you all!

Spec.

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Les enfants seuls savent ce qu’ils cherchent.

So as my days here in Paris continue I have been going out into Paris a little bit more each day. On Friday, since Thibaut was working I went to La Foire de Paris. La Foire is basically a giant exhibition of craft, food housing products and everything else you can think of. It’s as if they put the craft show, home and outdoor show and women’s show all together in one. It is enormous and took me a couple of hours to walk around. It is in several buildings and I skipped and hopped through each of them, all the while dodging the “Madame! Madame!” of the people trying to sell me hand-creams and mops with oscillating handles. It was really neat though and I saw lots of cool things from the tropics, like clothing and scarves, oh and the food smelled delicious.

For lunch, I took a break and had a “Sandwich Raclette” which I’m sure as most of you know is a fresh baguette with raclette cheese melted into it and it usually has ham and pickles, I just eliminated the ham. It was divine. once I had finished walking around I decided to branch out and wander through the streets on my own. I walked past a lot of the obligatory cafes and boulangeries and other cute interesting shops. The sidewalks are narrow and there is a lot of cobblestone, that really adds to the charm of the city. Just looking up is enough as all you can see are the windows and flower boxes of all the tiny apartments lined up along the street. It all looks very well cared for and organized. I headed home that evening to help set up for Baptist’s 20th birthday party. He was having two parties, one on Friday and one on Saturday. This one was to be the big one so we had lots to put out.

The party was a real hit and I met lots of lovely French kids all around my age. I know the French get a bad rap for being rude but  I have seen none of that yet, every one has been really nice to me so far.

The next day I woke up super late after going to bed late but nevertheless still decided to go to Paris. I got ready and hopped on the train mid afternoon to go to the “Forum des Halles.” It is basically a very busy area with a beautiful park and an underground shopping area. There were so many people in the streets and in the park there were lots of kids playing soccer and running around. Couples were walking hand in hand and there were a lot of ice cream cones being eaten, that I can assure you. The weather was perfect and this park was super nice as well. I walked around for a bit taking in the sites before heading into the underground for a drink and a break from the sun.


So there you have it, I have done a little this and a little that, but none of the big exciting stuff yet. Thibaut has the day off on Monday and Tuesday so I expect that will be busy bees with all the exciting things he has planned.

Until then mes amies!

Bisous!

Spec.

PS – I will one day have photos of me with the monuments I assure you. 🙂

Je m’baladais sur l’avenue le coeur ouvert à l’inconnu…

Can you believe it? I am finally in France, Paris no less! It is all too exciting. Let me recount to you my journey from the moment I left Toronto to this very moment now. I was destined for Paris (Charles de Gaulle airport) on an Air Transat flight that first stopped in Quebec. When I got on the plane, the flight attendant told me that the flight was full from Quebec onwards but that I could sit anywhere close to my regular seat until then. I took her up on the offer as the two seats next to mine were occupied by a chatty older brother and sister pair from Cambridge, Ontario. From Toronto to Quebec I slept and played solitaire on the wicked awesome borrowed ipod from my daddy-dearest.

Quebec came too fast, at which point I was moved to my little aisle dwelling in the middle of the plane. It turned out that the chatty couple were absolutely lovely and that we all enjoyed each others company. I know you are all breathing a sigh of relief, because we all know there is nothing worse than a bad plane mate.

After 10 hours of flying, eating bad plane food, playing solitaire, watching bad movies (one involving Jackie Chan as a babysitter (sacrilegious I know!)) and pretending to sleep, we touched down in Paris, France. I thought that from this point on that it would be relativley painless but it took over an hour to get through the passport customs line area and for my two miniscule bags to come through. (Yes, I am still a tad bitter over the luggage weight regulation, can you tell?)

Finally, the moment had come for me to walk out those frosted glass automatic doors – in to Paris – to see Thibaut! I sad o’revoir to my Cambridge companions and when I walked out Thibaut was front and centre and upon seeing me already asking for a photo of me with my luggage cart. It was all very embarrassing but forgiven because we hadn’t seen each other in almost 10 months. We took my luggage, hopped in his fancy little white hybrid European car and went to his house.

Driving was as aggressive as in Toronto I would say only the drivers have less patience (if that is possible). The cars are all very cute and compact and they whiz along the streets with noisy scooters pulling in and out of the lanes around them. Thibaut lives in a suburb of Paris that is absolutely perfect. It is about a half hour train ride to central Paris and the train station is a 5 minute walk from the house.

The suburbs here are perfect, with each house having wooden shutters, locking front gates and plenty of greenery around them. Everyone seems to have fruit in their back yards, and Thibaut’s place has a hammock hanging between two trees. It is great.

I spent a little bit of time with Thibaut on the first day, but because he had to work at 3pm, I was left to my devices for the rest of the day. I took a long nap because I had not slept on the plane at all and then went downstairs to meet his younger brother Baptist, who was equally as friendly and awesome.

I also had the pleasure of meeting his parents when they arrived home later on, and helped his mom cook dinner. She probably thinks that I have zero culinary skills because when asked to cut an apple I sliced it wrong. Although, in my defense I have never made a Tart au pommes and we also have an apple cutter – making me a useless human being.

So I learned to make tuna quiche and tart au pommes – and might I add that this for them is a quick meal that is thrown together in 20 minutes. Most impressive compared to our frozen pizzas and manicottis (not that there is anything wrong with those – it’s just a different culture, one I could seriously get used to.)

The next day I went with Thibaut to get bread in the morning. We walked over to his local boulangerie and picked out a couple of nice baguettes. He also showed me the way to the train station. At around 2 he headed out to work and I with his mom Elianne. She took me grocery shopping and we window shopped in all the stores around the grocery store. She is wonderful!

That evening we made dinner together and I sat with Elianne, Philippe (Thibaut’s father) and Baptist (his younger brother.) We all chatted and began to feel less self-conscious about my French, which was really good. I think my favourite thing about the meals is that little cheese course in between the main course and desert. I think if Daddy were here he would die, the cheese is so good. I have already tried several kinds, all of the names I cannot remember naturally.

So with that, I have been sleeping like a log each night in my comfy attic room under a skylight looking up at the French sky. Not a complaint in the world.

I promise there is more to come.

Spec.

It’s showtime!

So today is the big day! I leave for the airport at around 3:30. I am having flashbacks to when I set a countdown on my computer for this day and it said 90 days– I can remember thinking that 90 days was too long and that it would never come. I was wrong, it came sooner than I thought. So I have my clothes out, not packed mind you, but out and folded and my room is almost all organized for my departure. I have a couple of last minute things to do before I get to the airport but I think it all should work out without a hitch, fingers crossed. I am gathering addresses as I go so if you want mail from me please send me your address either by email or Facebook, whichever you prefer. I think I have most of them written down, but I am searching for a few stragglers so let me know.

Other than that, I think I am set. So I will write you all when I am in Paris! This will be my last Canadian post for awhile, how exciting is that?

SPEC IS ON THE MOVE…

Sincerely Spec.

Ohhhh Toronto!

So the last little while has been busy, what with my dear friend Tyler visiting, family visits, good bye parties and of course packing. In the past 12 or so days though, I have done a lot of cool things. Let me tell you about them! When I first arrived home, I had only 2 days to help my mum out with some stuff, before Tyler arrived on the scene. We spent the week doing lots of shopping and hanging around the city. Tyler has been to Toronto before and done the obvious touristy things like the CN Tower, the Skydome etc. so my goal was not to bring him anywhere like that.

Instead, we went to Buffalo for the day  to shop, spent a day in Kitchener visiting my cousin Melissa, had an afternoon picnic at the Toronto island, and saw many movies. We also hung out in Kensington market and China town and attended a lovely soiree at my friend’s Heather and Becky’s place. The week was a blast and unfortunately went by so quickly, that now Tyler is gone.

This past week has been a major whirlwind that included three big shows! The first one I went to see was at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre down on Alexandre by Carlton Ave. Sarah and I lined up to get tickets to see my favourtie author Ivan Coyote. The production was called Swell and was a collaboration project between Ivan, Anna Camalari and Lyndell, a group of people that once performed together in a similar style performance back in the 90s. It was a show on gender and life and it was so well written and very poetic. Ivan was his usual charming self and the show was amazing.

Next, my mom and I went to see Jersey Boys – and let me tell you, it is worth a see! The show was so lively and fun, and the music was great. We made a night out of it and really had a great time. I am still humming December 1963 at the moment, it’s all just to infectious.

The last show that we saw was a really special one for me, as it was my favourite comedian, Eddie Izzard. My mom and I had seen him once before a couple of years ago in New York but this time was very different. He was less political and of course hysterical. Oddly enough he is coming back to Toronto at the end of May, so if you are looking for a night out to plan make it Eddie Izzard. It was two solid hours of laughter and just made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I managed to snap this craptacular quality photo with my phone for your viewing pleasure:

After those three busy nights, my best friend Sarah threw me an afternoon goodbye party on Sunday. It was lovely. Almost everyone showed up and it was just really nice to see everyone one last time before I jet set off. Sarah even made me this wicked nautical style bag that I am in love with. I also spent the afternoon at Fabulous nail salon on Mt Pleasant with another besty getting my nails done and that just did me in. It has been such a fun two weeks back and I will miss my family and friends so much, but they know I am only a Skype call away.

Take care everyone!

Spec.