August 3, 2010

New directions

Posted in travel tagged , , , , at 9:53 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Watch this space — this blog is going in a slightly new direction!

Waking up


Breakfast and treats


Last-minute packing


Hiding, prepping


Truck loaded, stomachs loaded


Internetting, ipodding


Run away! Snacks for the road.


Help arrives. Puppy pee pads.


Last-minute errand. Trapped.


Preparing, sulking.


Still packing.


Kitties loaded.


Our merry band of travelers.


Truck ahead, car behind.


Kentucky, Louisville


Ohio River, Indiana


Break for gas and stuff.


I fade, Dad drives


Cool cloud, Wabash River (near Illinois border)


Sun’s too bright, it sets (at Illinois state line)


A very late arrival


Settling in


Good night

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July 5, 2010

Coming home

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , at 8:31 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

After 10 months in France, it’s time to return to the United States.
I woke up eaaarly in my hostel in Paris. I’d actually been up since about 5am because it started pouring rain, and I had the windows open. I finally had to face getting all my things from the last 10 months into three suitcases.


Quick run to the bathroom down the hall, and then get myself ready for the long journey.


I was on the 5th floor of the hostel, so I had to lug all my suitcases down the winding stairs.


I took a shuttle to the airport. It’s cheaper than a cab, but you’re sharing a ride with other tourists on their way to the airport. As we left the city center, I began to cry.


I pushed, shoved, and dragged my suitcases into the airport and immediately grabbed a luggage cart. It took a bit of wandering to find the Aer Lingus terminal. Fortunately I was early enough that the line wasn’t too bad, although I did discover that my “carry-on” suitcase was too heavy and I’d have to check it (and pay for it).


My first flight was from Paris to Dublin. I discovered there was another assistant from Bordeaux on two of the same flights with me, so we kept each other company.


I’ve never been to Ireland, and I didn’t even get a chance to explore the airport. The time between our connecting flight to Chicago was so brief that we rushed to get our new boarding passes and make it through customs in time.


I cried when they stamped me out of France, but at least I got a new Dublin stamp. US immigrations barely looked at my claims form before waving me through.


Giant airbus from Dublin to Chicago.


First we got a snack, and then I pretty much passed out from my tranquilizers (I hate flying). I remember hearing the attendant say “When she wakes up, ask her if she wants beef or chicken,” and I bolted up, “I’m awake! I’m awake!” (but very groggy)


Still a long way to go. We did fly close enough to see some of Greenland out the window. I was too tranq’d to pay attention to a movie, so I listened to the Glee soundtrack.


Scone snack. I hate raisins.


Two of my bags came out right away, but the third one didn’t come out until almost everyone else had left. I hate that, it leaves you thinking, “What if….?” Welcome back to the United States of America.


Welcome to (what was supposed to be) a six-hour layover. I only have Euros, so I need some cash (it looks so weird!), and then I hit Johnny Rockets for my first official meal in the US.


At this point, it’s around 11pm to my body, and I’m fading fast.


I officially take the adapter off my computer cord and watch some Mozart l’opéra rock videos.


7pm Chicago time – 2am to my body.


So excited! Finally almost going home!! And then, 5 minutes before boarding, they announce that the flight has been delayed 2 hours. I burst into tears. It would make over 24 hours since I woke up and left Paris.


Finally, finally, at 11:30pm in Chicago – 6:30am the next day to my body, we take off for Cincinnati. I’m so sad the adventure is over, but so happy to see my parents again.


And Mom and Dad were happy to see me too. ❤

May 31, 2010

After all this time, almost time to leave

Posted in planning, travel tagged , , , , at 12:42 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

I bought my train ticket to Paris today. My last ticket to Paris. The ticket that will take me to Paris, and nowhere else. Not back to Bordeaux. My heart broke a little when I told the cashier it was a one-way ticket. Because from Paris I will go to the airport and from the airport I will go to Dublin, Chicago and then home.

I teared up a little. I’m counting down the days until I’m outta here. 26 days till I leave Bordeaux, 29 till I leave France. But I’m so not ready to leave. It’s the biggest catch-22. I can’t imagine living anywhere other than France.

When I left in 2008, I remember standing on a bridge in St. Jean de Luz and saying “I will live here.” I made it my goal and I worked towards it, and I did it. I lived here.

I will return.

May 5, 2010

Spain! Part 2

Posted in travel, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 9:20 am by Fat Girl Dancing

Tuesday we tried to be up and out of the hostel by 9:30am, but with five women it was closer to 10am by the time we’d all finished breakfast and were ready to go. The original plan was to hit the beach just two blocks from the hostel in the morning and the further beach in the afternoon, but it was still fairly cool that morning so we went shopping instead!

Spain doesn’t have the restrictions on sales like France does, so there were some great bargains to be found. We went to some of our favorite French stores (H&M and Pimkie). I bought a Hello Kitty shirt-dress at H&M for only 10 euro. At Pimkie I was delighted to find a skirt I’d had my eye on back in France was marked down 40% here in Spain!

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Melanie’s new look

We finished shopping for souvenirs in the old section of town and walked back to the hostel for lunch. I had bought a microwavable potato tortilla from the grocery store the day before, and it turned out to be quite delicious and very filling! I had to share it with everyone else, because I couldn’t finish it all on my own.

Fed and shopped out, we were finally ready to hit the beaches! We started at the close beach, which was really the “surfer’s beach” because it was directly on the ocean and had very large waves. We spent a few hours there and then walked to the other beach — this one is actually in a bay, so the waves are much more calm. Melanie and I braved the cold April waters and went for a little swim! I love playing in the waves!

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We spent the last, dwindling hours of sunlight playing cards before walking back to the hostel to get cleaned up for dinner. As we were once again walking across town, we managed to catch the last rays of the sun before they disappeared behind the water.

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The hostel had recommended a Pintxo bar to us for dinner, but we’d had trouble finding it the last two nights. Finally I asked for directions (in Spanish!) and was able to understand the answer well enough to lead the group to the bar. The menu was all in Spanish, and everyone immediately demanded a translation, which was a bit overwhelming, but fortunately there was one employee who spoke English well enough to translate for all of us. It was only at the end of the evening that we saw a French translation of the menu hidden behind the bar! If we’d seen that earlier, it would have been much simpler ^_^

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Scallops (wrapped in ham — beurk!)

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Duck

We tried lots and lots of tiny dishes, including a superyummy risotto. It was a fun way to try lots of foods and get a very filling dinner. Once again we tried to find some kind of non-sketchy nightlife, but had no success with it, and went back home too early 😦

Wednesday was our last day in Spain! The day began warm and just kept getting hotter. We ate breakfast outside on the terrace, packed our belongings and checked out of the hostel. They very kindly allowed us to keep our luggage in a private room since we didn’t need to leave the city until 5pm. We did some more sightseeing, wandering around the city, up hills, and around the bay.

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And of course we needed a Cheetos break.

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Alicia, Karin, and Melanie nom some Cheetos

We walked towards the opposite side of the bay to see a sculpture that some members of the group were interested in, but as we hiked further and it got hotter, I could feel myself wilting. I knew if I continued the walk without water or rest (we were pushing ourselves because two members of the group had an earlier train to catch), I would dehydrate or get sick. When we passed a little cafe on the beach, I told the others to go ahead and catch up with me on the way back. Melanie decided to hang back too. We had drinks (I had a sangria!) and played cards while listening to Spanish conversation and watching the beautiful blue ocean.

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Back at the hostel, we said goodbye to two of our group and the rest of us changed into our swimsuits and went back to the surfer’s beach for the last time. Melanie and I tried to go swimming again, but the waves were definitely much bigger here than the ones at the bay! It was scary, but exhilarating.

We showered (the hostel was SO GREAT, letting us shower even though we were already checked out. Seriously. Olga’s Place in San Sebastian. Best hostel evar.), stopped to stock up on Cheetos, and headed back towards the train and to France. In the border city of Hendaye I grabbed a slice of gateau basque. You can’t come all the way to Basque Country and not have gateau basque!!

It was a great vacation with great friends, and I’m glad I got to go and have such fun times!

May 1, 2010

Spain!

Posted in travel, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:13 am by Fat Girl Dancing

This week, for three days, in order to somewhat salvage our vacation, my friends and I headed south to the warm and sunny beaches of San Sebastian, Spain.

I had been to San Sebastian once before, two years ago, on the fourth of July, for about 6 hours. I was looking forward to spending more time in the city and really exploring it. Once again I was the only Spanish speaker in the group, and I was looking forward to blowing the dust off my Spanish brain and getting some use out of it again. Living and breathing French for the last 7 months, plus not studying Spanish for 10 months had made me VERY rusty.

We met bright and early at the train station at 7:30 on Monday morning, and we were off! I tried to read a little of Crepusculo, my copy of Twilight in Spanish to help orient me, but we were all too excited to do more than chat. Once we got off the train in Hendaye, the border town in France, I took charge and got everyone to the Spanish train that would take us to San Sebastian. My first attempts to speak Spanish — to the ticket agent — didn’t go so smoothly. I was able to say I wanted a ticket to San Sebastian, but when he asked me if I wanted one way or round trip, I couldn’t remember how to say the word “today!” (as in, “just for today”) It wasn’t until we were on the train that I remembered it. Fortunately I had my French-Spanish dictionary, which came in very handy.

Once we were in San Sebastian I discovered we had bad directions from the station to the hostel. The group bugged me to ask someone on the street, which I did awkwardly (“Oh yeah, ‘z’ is pronounced like ‘s’!”), but she had no idea, so we went back to the station where the woman at the desk spoke English and had a map. Very helpful.

The hostel was about a 20-minute walk from the station, but it was a GREAT hostel. Only 14 euros a night for our room, and we had a balcony with a view of the ocean!

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View from our balcony

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I totally climbed that mountain

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Sangria!

The first thing we did was celebrate being in Spain with a bottle of Sangria we’d bought in France. Then we decided to climb a mountain. We’d gotten a map from the front desk of the hostel, and the woman there had marked interesting places and attractions for us. One place she’d marked was a mountain very nearby the hostel.

No kidding, this was a fucking mountain. Straight up climb, great picturesque scenery, but I was sloooooooowwww to climb, while all the others just kind of hopped up. My body just does not like gravity.  It took me a long time to get to the top, but the view was so worth it.

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Then we climbed back down the mountain because we were STARVING. Down is much easier than up. It was too late for lunch in most places, but one restaurant was willing to serve us bocadillos. I had a queso tortilla bocadillo that was AMAZINGLY delicious.

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YUM

We did some grocery shopping for breakfast and lunches for the next few days, and I bought CHEETOS. This became the Cheetos vacation. There are no Cheetos in France. I remembered from my last trip that there were Cheetos in Spain. I wanted Cheetos. Everyone thought I was nuts until they too tasted the Cheezy goodness. Then we were all going nuts for Cheetos, stopping in alimentaciones wherever we found them for MOAR CHEETOS.

We came home and passed out. It started as just having a bit of a lie down and turned into a three-hour nap. So much for going shopping! We headed back out to the other side of town just as all the stores were closing.

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But I found a Sanrio store!!

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This paella was so good, I wanted to eat it forever. And ever.

We passed a gelato place, and I had been named decision-maker for the evening, so i said, “DECISION MAKER SAYS GELATO.” Fortunately they agreed with me. The place was so good and cheap, we went back every day!

We wandered around forever, trying to find some famous Spanish nightlife, but everything was either really seedy or empty. We settled for a drink along the quai and then went back to the hostel for the night.

March 14, 2010

Playing catch-up (part 1)

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , , at 12:41 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Guess I should finally update, then!  Since my last post, we’ve had our winter break here in the French school system.  Only one more vacation period left….I know, no one really feels very sorry for me, but those last two months without a break are going to be tough!  They’re helpful not only for the children, but also for the teacher’s sanity!

My winter vacation was fantastic, but it passed way too quickly.  The first week I did absolutely nothing, and it was glorious.  After a long, cold and rainy winter, moving, and school stress, I spent the week sleeping, hanging out with people who were still in town, and organizing my room to my liking.  The week just flew by.

Saturday, February 27, I set off for Paris to be ready to meet my mom and my cousin who were flying in the next day!  I hadn’t seen my mom since I left on September 15, so I was terribly excited to finally see her again. The weather was absolutely gorgeous in Paris on Saturday, and I remembered why I was so in love with the city — it had also been since September since I’d been there.

Sunday France and other parts of Europe were hit hard by tempete Xynthia, and I got a text from Mom saying that their flight was being redirected to Brussels instead of Paris. As Mom put it, “The flight was fine until about an hour before we were supposed to land. The pilot came on, and I thought he was going to say we were about to start making our descent, but he said Charles de Gaulle airport was closed and we were being rerouted to Brussels!”

The winds in Paris were about 60mph, and there was no way they could have landed that early in the morning. I tried to take a walk around the neighborhood, and couldn’t make it down the street. I saw motorcycles and fruitstands blown over, but all I was thinking was “I WANT MY MOMMY!!!!” I went back to the hotel and cried and watched French music videos and waited for updates.

They waited in Brussels for 2 hours, then the winds shifted and they tried again, landing safely in Paris. Unfortunately, there was no gate for them, so they sat on the tarmac for another hour or so (having now been stuck on that plane a good 11 hours!). The later it got, the more plans we kept having to cancel, until they finally showed up around 4:30pm and everything was scrapped except Hard Rock Cafe, the Eiffel Tower, and dinner. (We’d bought tickets online for a bus tour that we never got to use :-() I was just so happy to see them!!!!

We started off at the Hard Rock Cafe with appetizers and drinks so Mom could get her souvenir Hurricane glass.  Going back to the metro to go to the Eiffel Tower, we discovered that mom’s 3-day metro pass wasn’t working, so I went to the cashier and explained the problem (in French). Mom and Jenny were terribly impressed. I began planting the seeds that I was helpful and they’d be lost without me when they returned next weekend, so they should bring me back with them, to make up for the day we lost.

We arrived at the Eiffel Tower just as it was sparkling, and they were very impressed. We could only go to the second level and not the top (see above re: windstorm and 60mph winds), but it was still a great view and a good time was had by all. We took a taxi back to the hotel and then picked a small brasserie on Place Maubert for dinner.

Jenny and Mom in front of the Eiffel Tower

January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Posted in travel tagged , , , , , , at 5:41 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

Happy 2010!  I’ve now completed three and a half months of living abroad.  It’s been very trying sometimes, but I’ve really enjoyed it.

I spent the New Year’s weekend with my good friends from Ohio who are also assistants.  We met in Angers (where none of us live) because David had studied there last year and knew of some parties and a place to stay.

I left  Bordeaux on the morning of the 31st, and as the train was crossing over the Garonne, I saw a beautiful rainbow hanging over the city. It has to be a sign of better things to come.

David’s friend picked us up in downtown Angers and drove us out to his house for the party.  We spent the evening with his friends and his (American) girlfriend, talking, drinking and eating.  Apparently it’s a tradition for the reveillon to eat and drink as much as possible.  We had raclette for dinner, and they kept trying to force more and more cheese on me!  “Eat, eat!” I was told.  “It’s the New Year!”  (I was only able to eat potatoes and cheese for the raclette, as everything else offered was pork.  But I did try cavier earlier at the party, and it was pretty good!)

Much merriment and festivating was had, and at midnight we all went outside to watch neighbors shoot of fireworks.  The French sang the Marseilles and David and Wes sang the Star-Spangled Banner.

David wanted to stay up and watch the ball drop in New York at 6am, even though he’d been traveling since the 30th and awake for nearly 40 hours.  We tried, but we just couldn’t last.  I fell asleep around 5-ish and woke up briefly to hear Ryan Seacrest say it was now 2010 in the US.

Friday and Saturday we explored the city of Angers.  David loved living here and was happy to show us all his old haunts (even though it was hard to find many of them open on the national holiday of New Year’s Day).    We went bowling, and I played miserably, not even breaking 50!  I think the lane was at a slant…

Cointreau is the official liquer of Angers, since it’s produced there, and it was offered in lots of drinks.  I had a great (decaf) coffee drink with Cointreau and whipped creme!

Cafe Angevin

All the partying and tourism is just too much for poor David!

Oh, David!

Friday night David’s former host family had left us more raclette, but since I would just be having potatoes and cheese again, we ate a little of it and then picked up a few pizzas and spent the evening watching a movie.

We had nutella crepes for breakfast on Saturday.  Wes had to leave, but David and I got changed and ready to go out clubbing with another friend of his.  We had some good conversations and I had a GREAT tuna and shrimp panini at his favorite panini shop.

We went to a few clubs and did a lot of dancing, before I started to get a terrible headache around 2am and had to cut the evening short.  Despite that, I had a great time in Angers, and I’m glad I got to ring in the New Year in France with my friends!!

Angers

Back to teaching tomorrow…I hope I can remember how!

December 2, 2009

Let me explain…

Posted in la vie bordelaise, travailler, travel, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:26 am by Fat Girl Dancing

No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.

I’ve not abandoned this blog!  I just got behind and then stressed about catching up and then life went CRAZYGONUTS.

Here’s your November update in a nutshell, and then we can move on to December ^_^

  • Things started getting awkward with my host family when I returned from the Toussaint vacation
  • I came right back to my first bus strike!  I was late and missed my first class, then it took me two hours to get home.
  • I went on my first outing with OnVaSortir, a socializing website for meeting French people.  We went out for cafés.  It was good to get out and meet real French people, but very exhausting to try and keep up with the conversation for several hours!
  • I BOUGHT A BIKE!!  I love my bike.
  • Riding on the streets of Bordeaux is terrifying.
  • I started hanging out more with the other English assistants, which I’ve really enjoyed.
  • I got my hair redyed and trimmed, and it wasn’t a disaster!
  • I spent a beautiful Saturday biking all over Bordeaux and along the river, and then came upon a Pro-choice rally and joined it.
  • I saw “New Moon” in French, and it was still hysterically funny.
  • I picked up a tutoring gig (starts today, actually!)
  • I went out to a bar with some French people, and a French guy bought me a drink!
  • I went to a potluck dinner with other assistants.
  • Things went from awkward to REALLY BAD with my host family really fast 😦
  • I Skyped with my parents on Thanksgiving and watched the Macy’s parade from their kitchen via the internets.  Then I called back around midnight my time to “sit” at the dinner table with everyone.
  • I went to La Rochelle for Thanksgiving weekend with my friends Wes and David.  We made a great feast and had a lot of laughs.
  • I moved out of my host family’s house and into a temporary situation with another assistant.  I’m currently looking for a permanent place to live.
  • And we end November with another transportation strike!  Ahhh, France.

French bike!

Banana creme pie

Banana creme pie

Thanksgiving - French style

Banana creme pie - YUM!Thanksgiving - French style

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.

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

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