Fall-ing back into the groove…

Hi everyone!

I have to thank you for being so patient and checking back to see if I have updated. I can see you visited and I have been neglecting my blogs a little lately due to being so busy and trying to figure out my next move, in life. To make up for the break however, I have prepared several little videos and pictures to share with you, as well as multiple posts this week. I hope you can forgive me for my time away 🙂

I think if I were in Canada right now, this post would be considerably more poetic because I could tell you about how beautiful everything looks as the leaves change colour and the smell of fall takes over, but alas I am in the concrete jungle of Paris, where it seemingly is just getting colder and the few trees that there are, are not changing colour.( I suspect that the trees are not in fact real, but that I can’t be certain about, as the leaves begin about a giraffes length up and I cannot reach to check). Regardless, one thing I can say is that, as it is dark in the morning when I wake up, by the time I ride over the “Pont D’Alma” on my way to work, the sky is a canvas of orange and purple and showcases the Eiffel Tower beautifully.

I am still loving work and couldn’t be happier with my job. I have been looking for things to do to keep my life interesting and exciting while I’m still in the city. Last week, I went to see one of my favourite French musicians, Christophe Mae, at Paris Bercy, which I would say is Paris’ equivalent to the ACC. The show was incredible and we were so close to the stage. Just a little closer and I think I could have shook his hand and then of course never washed my hand ever again.  It was really nice to go and see a concert and I was blown away by how good the show was. There were African dancers and singers, a full band, dancing, audience participation, and an uneventful pre-show act, which to me sums up all the necessities of a great show. Here are a couple of pictures and a video so you can pretend you were there with me: (Please excuse the quality of video and pictures, my camera does not do well in dark spaces)

If you like what you heard in my shoddy video, check out this link where you can hear more of his stuff. It’s French, upbeat and a little islandy!

I have also been trying to take in a little more culture when I can, so I have been going to the Bastille market on Sunday afternoons. The market is known for being cheap and good for fruits and veggies, which I can tell you is not something grocery stores in Paris do well. Most of the time, the fruits and veggies from supermarkets are on the verge of going bad and  I never eat everything in time. Fortunately, the market is full of good quality produce and it costs next to nothing. I sometimes make it a challenge and bring a small amount of money, like 10 euros and see how well I can do. Last time I came home with over 8 kilos of stuff –  it was a trip well worth the carry home. I will also add that I get proposed to at least once each time I go, by the merchants. I still cannot figure out if this is a sales tactic that works well for them. Surely I would consider buying my potatoes off the man who has the courage to ask my hand in marriage as opposed the man who does not!!!

Regardless, last time, on my way home, I stopped to see this street band that was really gaining a crowd. The music was so fun and groovy and although you can’t see in the video, people were dancing together off to the side. I think in retrospect, I would have loved to live in the Bastille area, because it is young, hip and teeming with creativity like this:

Now I’m sure you are all wondering about the strikes in Paris, and France in general, as I have had plenty of people ask me what is has been like here. I have to say that, perhaps I am missing something big, but nothing has really changed in Paris other than the transit is slow and disorganized, or at least more so than usual, and sometimes they decided to not run my bus home for no apparent reason and without telling me. I know there have been riots in other cities and there have been strikes all over Paris, but nothing so big has happened that has made me think twice about leaving my apartment or not going out. I can assure you that all this business about Lady Gaga canceling her show in Paris because of the strikes is a clear example of how the international media is blowing the situation out of proportion. I’m pretty sure that Miss Gaga herself could still have come to Paris without fearing for her life… but the media will do what the media will do. (To be honest I wasn’t crushed in the least about her not coming, I just found it to be the most humorous of examples when it came to the real situation in Paris.) To assure you further that things are fine here in Paris, the regular strikes for things like animal rights are back on as per usual, which to me proves that things are slowly going back to how they were. I even took a photo for you all to see:

I will be back this week with a couple of posts as I have been working on a couple new projects that I want to share with all of you, so be sure to visit soon!

I want to thank you all for reading and commenting as often as you do, it really makes me happy to know that people back home are still with me 🙂

Sending love to you all!

 

Spec.

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When Mum came to visit…

Despite talking to my mum very regularly on the phone, it’s just not the same as having her with me. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have her come and visit me in Paris. Now I think when she arrived, she may have thought my apartment was small based on webcam shots, but didn’t REALLY know how small it was. I like to call it quaint. We only had a week together, and thankfully, having been to Paris before, my mumsy wasn’t too upset about not seeing all the touristy sites. I just wanted to spend time with her, and it didn’t really matter what we did.

On the first evening, we made a dinner of fresh cheeses, warm baguette and sat and talked. We had spent the afternoon walking down in the St Michel neighbourhood and the Marais, but alas with jet lag, and me having worked part of the day, we settled in to bed early. Now, if you know my mum and I, you know that it is difficult for us to sleep in the same room as one another as we giggle and chat too much into the wee hours of the morning. This is precisely what happened.

Let me share with you the topic of the evening. How the Chunnel built? Brought on, no doubt by the fact that we were set to go through it in a couple of days, to London. Popular questions included: Does it really go through the water? How did they get the tubes in the water? me – Can you see the fish as you go through? etc etc. This took a serious Wikipedia session to solve before we could rest in peace.

The following day, I had to go to work, so mum went on a bike tour of Paris, which I hadn’t heard of anyone doing until she told me about it. Mum’s internet travel research for the win! From the  sounds of it, you really get to see all the good parts of Paris, with little tidbits of the obvious tourist stuff.

That evening we had a lovely little dinner at a French bistro called Chez Janou, in the Bastille area. I love Bastille because it is so vibrant and fun and the food was delicious. We also had wine which felt very French… throw in the cigarette smoke and warm baguette from the tables next to us and it’s about as French as it gets! hon hi hon hi hon! (French laugh)

It was so nice to come home after work and have my dearest Mumsy waiting for me. We did quite a bit of walking around downtown but had to prepare for our trip to London for the weekend!

The following day, Mum came to visit the embassy to see where I work just before we were leaving for the Eurostar to London. I felt very important as I am currently using an enormous office of a lady who just recently retired. ( They are fixing up my actual office where I will share a space with another person) For now however, I am livin’ it large in an office 3-4 times bigger than my apartment.

We headed back to the apartment to gather out things to go to London. Now the last time I went to London I was mugged on my way home in the train so this time I was being super vigilante and to my surprise actually saw pickpockets lurking around the metro at the train station this time. It pays to be alert here, that’s all I can say. Anyways, I am happy to inform you all that neither Mum nor I got mugged or had a bad experience, unless you count the metro workers strike which caused a rather gross, hot and packed metro ride to the train station… but that’s just Paris.

The train was great as per usual and I think Mum finally got had a good nap,while I studied for my UK citizenship test. We whizzed through the Chunnel and all of our newfound knowledge of it disappeared as neither of us was paying attention while we went through. We emerged into London and hopped on the tube, shockingly, it was raining. We arrived at Paddington station and walked to our hotel. Our hotel looked like a row of houses on a quiet street and was quiet nice. The staff didn’t know what tissues were and brought us napkins, as well as when told that the room was extremely cold, put the heating on to 35 degrees, and provided beds that compete with rocks in a comfort competition, but we weren’t there for hotel, we were there for the city!  On our first day, I made mum have a real English breakfast because I like that sort of thing. We then made our way down to Oxford street so I could see a new clothing line that I had been dying to see.

We spent the day roaming around the shops and enjoying our little vacation. Thanks to mum’s savvy research we found a couple amazing restaurants where we sat, chatted and enjoyed some good English food. We also went to Portobello market, one of my most favourite places in London, saw my beloved bed-knobs and broomsticks characters, and I introduced Mum to whoopie pies, which I hear are catching on back home in Canada. Clearly I have contributed to this newfound discovery in some way!

 

On Sunday, we went to the Orangery, which is a tea house inside the Kensington Gardens and next to the Palace. It was so charming as they brought little tea sandwiches on white napkins and deliciously orange smelling tea. It was exactly how I would imagine an English tea house, that perhaps the Queen would have her tea in. Here is a photo of me by the strange silo shaped bushes.

 

This man was feeding the squirrels, and they would come right up to him, sit on his hand and eat the nuts they were given, it was really neat.

After our little tea break, we went to see this really fun exhibit at the Kensington Palace. They had turned the palace into a sort of fairy tale where each room represents a different fairy tale or story, and the princesses from each story are real princesses from the English monarchy. It was very regally decorated and the lights were low with all sorts of mysterious montages and exhibits. There was even a game that required us to find all the names of the princesses as we went through the exhibit.  I really loved the exhibit and thought the Kensington Palace was quite lovely. I was expecting it to be a lot less beautiful inside, and was pleasantly surprised.

The weekend was really fun and went by way too fast. I still am completely in love with London, and wish I could go every weekend. Because of tube work, a lot of lines on the tube were not running from many stations while we were there, so we took the regular double-decker city buses everywhere and it was nice to just put around the city and see it from above ground, it really gives you an idea of how the city is connected.

Sadly, on Sunday evening, we headed back through the Chunnel to Paris. We were greeted by the usual sketchy crowd at Gare du Nord, and hopped as fast as we could into a taxi home. Home sweet apartment!

On Monday, I had taken the day off and was determined to show mum a couple of places that I love in Paris. The first, was Sacre Coeur. I love the view and the amazing old architecture. It really is amazing to see. It also gives you a real feel for what Paris is like, and how old and beautiful it is.

We spent our last day together again walking the streets, we went back to the Marais, visited Le Bon Marche, saw the Moulin Rouge and then had a little farewell drink with my friend Thibaut at The Great Canadian Bar, which I will point out, had an Australian server.

I was so sad to see my dear mumsy go on Tuesday morning. The shuttle picked her up so early and I wanted her to stay forever! But alas, all good things must come to and end. Now we are back to our regular Skype chats where we discuss the inner working of train tunnels, whether Paul McCartney and Angela Lansbury are the same person or any other ridiculous random subject that may come up.