November 15, 2009

Toussaint vacances part 2

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , at 5:25 am by Fat Girl Dancing

I’ve been so tired this week, so my blogging has slacked. *kicks self in the butt* Get back to it!

You may remember I went on vacation what now feels like a million years ago. The first post is here. The second post is the one you’re reading now 😮 It’s all meta and shit!

Part II

When David and I woke up on Friday, his roommates were already gone, having left on an early train for Paris where they were spending the next four days. David made us a Spanish-style omelette (tortilla) for breakfast.

1030_davidomeletteAfter showering and getting dressed, we set off to explore the town of Vitré more thoroughly.

By the time we got to town it was nearly 2pm, so we sat at a Creperie and had dessert crepes. We like to eat dessert before our meals. I had chocolate and banana, of course, and David had caramel and butter.

Then it was exploring time! We started with the castle. We each bought a ticket to the museum that would allow us inside to explore the castle and would also allow us free entry to four other museums in the area. I was hoping to get to see Madame de Sevigné’s house, since I did a report on her a few years ago, but it was just too far away and there wasn’t enough time.

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David in the chateau

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Weird statue-thing

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Where's David?

Mostly the castle was a museum for different paintings and tapestries, but it was still interesting to walk through. There was one turret that was swarming with flies crawling all over the windows — it was seriously creeping me out. Then there was a death room: dead insects, dead animals and even a dead baby skeleton. That was when the tour was over. WEIRD, Vitré.

We walked around to find the other museum that was close that we could get into when our friend Wes texted us that he’d gotten his pay advance and he could come up Sunday maybe. We called him and convinced him that he needed to come up tomorrow because it was Halloween and he should spend as much time as possible with us.

The other museum turned out to be a disappointment. It was a tiny catholic church with gorgeous stained glass, but they didn’t allow photography and the rest of the “museum” part was catholic relics from the 20th century.

We walked around the town some more….there was a lot of walking. We decided to finally have a late lunch — it was nearing 5pm by this point. We went into a bar and ordered steak haché with fries — the first time I’d had fries since Paris. The bartender made a point to tell us he only served us the food because we were Americans, normally he didn’t serve food at that time.

After eating, we walked through the local park.

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Butterflies

I climbed trees.

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Lots of low trees - great for climbing!

And then we walked to the grocery to get fixin’s for dinner before they closed at 7:30. We spent a looooong time in the store (it’s like a Meijer) because David kept remembering things he needed. We were going to make tacos, but they only had fajita seasonings. So we bought it.

We got home, and I cooked everything. It felt nice; it was my first time cooking in France.

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Taco salad in France

Our little taco salads were actually quite delicious!

David wanted to go out dancing that night at a club that didn’t even open until midnight, so I took a nap about 10pm. He woke me at 1am, and we went to the club. It was small but nice, and we drank and danced and talked with French people in the smoking area outside while he smoked. We stayed until nearly 4am and then staggered home, where we watched an episode of 30 Rock and then I passed out from exhaustion.

We slept until nearly noon the next day and then showered fast, ran into town, grabbed food for lunch from the market in town and arrived at the train station just as Wes’s train was pulling in.

We walked him back to David’s apartment and had lunch. We took a late train into Rennes and explored a little more of this big town (but not as big as Bordeaux ;-p). David bought a Brittany (Bretagne) flag he’d been wanting from a stall at an open-air market and I bought a great pair of earrings. We went back to that same bar we’d had trouble finding Thursday night and had cafés.

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David and Wes

We kept seeing little kids in costumes wandering around, and I remembered that in France kids don’t trick-or-treat from door-to-door but from shop-to-shop! They would go into any candy store or patisserie or grocery store and beg for treats. It was adorable. I tried to get pictures but couldn’t without looking stalkerish.

We decided Wes needed to try gallettes, so we sat down at a gallette place for dinner. I had the same type as Thursday, but it was just as good!

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Halloween light display

Vitré at night was just gorgeous.

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Vitré at night

The boys changed their clothes to get ready to go out to the club, but I hadn’t really brought any “club wear” since I was trying to pack lightly, so I caught up on some things on the internet.

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Wes and me

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Me

We stayed for maybe an hour and a half before David saw some of his students! He felt uncomfortable being in a party-type situation around them, so we left.

We came back, watched some more 30 Rock, and fell ASLEEP.

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November 10, 2009

The rain in Spain falls mainly on France

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travailler tagged , , , , , , at 1:10 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

If I could sum up Bordeaux in one word, that word would be: RAIN.  Rain rain rain rain rain.  Rain.

Bordeaux lured me in when I first arrived with 20 or so days of warmth and sunshine and not a drop from the sky.

“This isn’t bad at all!” I thought, as I walked around in tank tops and admired the bright blue skies.

And then….everything changed.

 

It has been raining nearly every day for over a week.  Rain is forecasted for every day into the foreseeable future.  Sometimes I’ll refresh the forecast and they’ll tease me and take the rain out for one day, but then I refresh again five minutes later and it’s back in.  Rain.  Every day.  For the rest. of. my. life.

 

In school news, my students are already eager to talk about Christmas.  I told them there’s another American holiday in between Halloween and Christmas that we’re going to start talking about beginning on Thursday.

I have sung “Where is Thumbkin” 16 times this week, and I’ll sing it 16 more before the end of the week.  They love it.

Yesterday I asked one of my students, in English, “Have you glued it in your notebook already?” and he nodded and showed me, and I smiled and said to him in French “You understood a sentence in English!” and he looked so proud of himself.

November 7, 2009

Toussaint vacances – Part One

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , , , at 7:07 am by Fat Girl Dancing

My vacation was so AMAZINGLY AWESOME it cannot be contained in one post. I have an idea it might be that way for all my vacations here.

I left Bordeaux early on Wednesday morning, October 28. I stopped to buy half a dozen Cannelés as a thank-you gift for my couchsurfing host.

Normally I love riding on trains, so I didn’t mind that the train from Bordeaux to Nantes was four hours. I had movies, books, music, and a travel pillow. Oh, and a screaming baby two rows behind me. The child screamed without ceasing for THREE HOURS of the trip. I was about to throw the kid off the train myself.

I was so happy to be off the train and in Nantes right on time (normally French trains are very punctual). I left the train station and went across the street to the tram stop to look at a map. I had vague plans for my day: I wanted to see the castle and the Jules Verne museum, and of course I wanted to see downtown Nantes! I studied the map for a few minutes and then promptly began walking the wrong way. Oops ^^;; Bad moment for Direction Man. I took the tram back the two stops to the castle.

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Chateau Nantes

The castle was really impressive — not as big as other castles in France, but the first one I’ve seen on this visit to France! I did the self-guided tour and took lots of pictures which can all be seen on my Flickr

I took the tram to the stop for the Jules Verne museum and then walked up a GIANT HILL to get to the museum. I was mostly exploring it to see if my dad might like it when he comes to visit at the end of my stay in France, but it ended up being pretty cool and mostly about astronomy, which I love.

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Musée Jules Verne

I still had time to kill, so I took the tram back to downtown Nantes and wandered in and out of the shops for awhile. They had a long pedestrian-only shopping street with the same stores as Bordeaux, so I was a little disappointed that the commercialism layout was the same as my own town.

A little before 8pm I made my way by tram to my host’s apartment. I got a little turned around, but thanks to my GPS and GoogleMaps App I found it! The other couchsurfer from Bordeaux was already there, and both she and the host were very nice. The host made us (vegetarian!) dinner of lentils and rice that was delicious, and we played a weird game that she’d invented. She gave up her bed to the two of us surfers, so I slept comfortably and soundly!

I woke up early, tried not to disturb the other two who were still sleeping, took a quick shower, got dressed and left for the train station. I had two more trains to ride today before I would be in Vitré. They were both fairly uneventful, though I did finish one of my books.

The last train pulled into Vitré (a small town in the Brittany region) right on time, and as soon as I stepped off I saw my friend David holding a welcome sign (and a baguette)!

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Welcome to Vitré!

I was so happy to see him! I hadn’t seen him since we’d parted ways in Paris in September! His German roommate had come along too, so the three of us walked back through the town to their apartment. I met his other roommate, from Spain. I was too nervous to speak much Spanish to him yet — all this intensive French has erased a lot of my Spanish.

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Cidre

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Chicken curry

The boys put together a great apero and lunch spread — wine, cheese, bread and olives first and then chicken curry. It was my first time having chicken curry, and it was actually pretty good! Not too spicy.

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Downtown Vitré

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Downtown Vitré

After lunch David and I walked back downtown to show me the castle and the shops. Vitré is an absolutely gorgeous little town. Definitely in the northern part of France…I noticed immediately the lack of palm trees (and I already missed them) and the different styles of architecture.

We walked back to his apartment (I cannot adequately express to you what a hike it was from his apartment to downtown and vice versa….up a major hill each way, and a good 15-20 walk. We DEFINITELY exercised, which is good, because we definitely ATE) and hung out talking until his roommates were ready to go into Rennes — the major town about 45 minutes away by car. His roommate from Germany had driven (wouldn’t that have been easier? Someone build a bridge) so we piled into his car. It was definitely weird being in a car and on a highway. As we were coming into Rennes, David and I started pretending that we were coming into Dayton:
“Look, we’re just leaving Oakwood.”

“I know, can you see the Crowne Plaza up ahead?”

“Oh yeah! And look, there’s the Denny’s right there.”

“Yup.” We’re weird.

We wandered around downtown Rennes for a bit before deciding to have a traditional Brittany meal of gallettes for dinner. I had a gallette with spinach, crème fraiche and a fried egg. And of course, cidre. We had a lot of cidre. It was all really good!

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Gallette and cidre

After eating, his roommates left to go to their heavy metal concert and David and I continued wandering around looking for cool bars. He texted a friend of his to find a fun bar, and we spent nearly an hour walking AROUND it, asking strangers on the street, getting close to it but never finding it until finally we stumbled upon it. It was nice with good techno music. We stayed there for awhile and met his friend. Then we went wandering and found another bar, had more drinks. I was freezing, and David kindly lent me his coat, since I’d decided not to pack my heavy coat and just had a hoodie.

We were about to sit at yet another place with his friends when his roommates texted him that the concert was over and they were coming to pick us up. Which of course said to us that it was the perfect time to get paninis. David had to repeat his order about 20 times, to the amusement of the other French people in line, but we finally got our order…mmmmm, tuna panini! We ate them as we rode back to Vitré.

My first two awesome days of vacation…I miss them already! All this stupid work is getting in the way of my having fun ;-p

November 6, 2009

They can’t all be good days

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travailler tagged , , , , , , , at 1:18 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

+ There was cold milk this morning

– Because I bought it myself — we’ve gone to I-buy-everything-I-use-except-dinners here

– The 8:27 bus never showed up

– I missed my first class

+ One of my students gave me a hug and a kiss

– Now I probably have the grippe

+ One of the teachers said she wanted to get together and practice French and English with me and visit museums and stuff, and we exchanged contact info

– It won’t start till she’s back from having surgery

– Another teacher had to come in and yell at one of my classes twice for being too disturbing because I couldn’t control them.

+ Bonding over A Fine Frenzy with one of my teachers at lunch

+ Hey, I like cauliflower! (with enough cream and cheese, sure)

– The sad looks from the class I missed as I walked out for the day without teaching their class

– WAITING AN TWO HOURS FOR A FRICKIN’ BUS

– Surprise strikes

+ Didn’t have to walk ALL the way home, just some of it.

+ Family left for the lake house!!

+ Solace!

More – than +, so I get to say it was a BAD DAY.

 

(posts and pictures about my WONDERFUL vacation are coming!)