Posts in Europe
I can still remember coming in to Avignon during the final two days of the Festival d'Avignon, a month-long showcase of modern art, theatre and music. On paper a festival in an old Provençal city sounds intriguing. Yet when we drove into the city on Saturday night, we were underwhelmed by the generic festival glaze that coated the city. It was as though the cultural world had turned out its pockets of lint and change and bits of debris and with it all manner of musical and carnival fray clattered onto the cobblestone. View Gallery »
You might have heard of mystery rides, or maybe you have a similar tradition in your family. Well, this past Saturday, August 23, 2014, we woke up at 6:15am. Matt rolled out of bed first. When he came back to give me my morning tonic, I could hear the water starting to steam and boil in the background. "Are you making cooooffffffeeeee?", I intoned. "No", he said, and I couldn't tell if he was playing coy or not. He went to tend to the water, and I could hear something hard bouncing lightly on the bottom, elevated by the stream of bubbles. Eggs! He came back a third time and took the phone out of my hand, plugging it in next to the bed. "Are we going somewhere?", I murmured. "No...", came the reply. And then moments later, "Are you ready to go on a mystery ride?" "Oooooooo." I climbed out of bed eagerly and padded into the kitchen. Ten brown eggs were bouncing happily in the pot. A ten-egg mystery ride! View Gallery »
While vacations can sometimes feel like the maximum amount of fun packed into the shortest amount of time, traveling is not all flowers and cupcakes. Growth and challenge are commonplace, but that doesn't mean you're always going to like it. Sure, you'll learn something from getting ripped off or a bout of diarrhea, which can make for an interesting anecdote of this culture or that cuisine, but I, for one, don't seek out challenges like these. I'm more in favor of learning new languages, making conversation (and enventually, friends), and trying out new experiences. I'd prefer to leave the street meat and too-good-to-be-true deals to those out there who actually enjoy them. Still, pain and frustration do comprise the bulk of many good experiences.
We're in Paris for a couple of months, but we're also going through the intro of the GAPS diet to rehabilitate from this year's ailments. For those unfamiliar, I'll spare you. But basically, we're in France and we can't eat raw milk cheese, anything with gluten (or any other grain, for that matter), pastries, wine, vinegar, charcuterie, raw fruit or tomatoes. Not because of strict adherence, but let's just say, these foods do not agree with us. For now. Are we masochists? I guess we're just confident there's more to France than bread, wine and cheese. View Post »
GalleryBelleville Open-Air Market
If you're ever in Paris on Tuesday or Friday morning, the multiethnic Belleville market is worth a visit. The prices are quite cheap, but the real reason to go is to "take a cultural bath," as our French teacher Isabelle says. The market runs almost a kilometer south down the mid-strip of Boulevard Belleville to the Ménilmontant stop. I've walked in its wake a few times on a Wednesday or Saturday, strolling under the neatly rolled awnings that remind me of hundreds of toriis, and avoiding bits of rotted cabbage and fruit in my path. But until this Tuesday our schedules had not aligned.
By the time we arrived it was getting on 11:30am and the place was flooded. To give you a frame of reference, Paris produce markets usually setup by 8-9am, really get going by 11am and wind down around 1-2pm. I'd already read a few enthusiastic posts online by local bloggers, encouraging people to experience this colorful produce market. Because in the throes of so many people, that's all you can really do. The general recommendation was to start at the beginning and let the energy pull you forward like a tidal wave (or a raging river), getting a bit jostled and bruised along the way, but hopefully not splayed out on all fours by the end — and hopefully with your fruit still intact! View Gallery »
There's a practiced romance about France that's so suave and self-assured as to be intimidating. The most oft repeated association with Paris is love, after all. So while I felt both excited and oddly nostalgic walking through Paris, there was also a pressure building to maximize our experiences in such a short time.
In fact it wasn't until we left the harder greys and creams of the capital for the ochre and pinks of the south that we allowed France to have its way with us. Not soon after our arrival in Toulouse, Aus even wondered aloud if the trip was improving day upon day, or if it was just his image of it. A bit of both, I suppose. I also felt a little quieter and more relaxed. View Gallery »
While Matt, Austin and I had read and planned and scrutinized the arrondissements on a map, in guidebooks, and in exchanges amongst friends, I felt somehow completely unprepared when Matt and I touched down at Charles de Gaulle on July 18th. My stomach was filled with butterflies as the captain announced that it was going to be a beautiful 35° C. Only on airplanes do they use words like beautiful to describe the weather.
Right away I felt out of sync with the surrounds. While waiting to buy tickets for the train, everyone was so polite to one another we could barely tell who was in line. A nice young Frenchman approached me while I was standing half in and half out of line and launched into three or four sentences before he trailed off, noticing my expression of confusion, and hearing the few words I half spat out and half swallowed when I told him I didn't speak French.
When we got up to the machine, we were lacking in both Euro coins and a chip-and-pin credit card, the only options for payment (!?). I forgot about paying to use the bathroom, and, once outside, we were wholly unprepared for the 90°+ F weather in our leather boots, jeans, and shirts. View Gallery »
Saturday morning, while I was sleuthing around online, I came across a walk: "Lewes - Glynde - Firle - Alfriston - Seaford." Looking at the title, I couldn't tell if the author's dashes were meant to link the towns together in a natural progression, or to indicate a series of individual walks that, once joined, made an epic journey 14.9 miles long. View Gallery »
GalleryKemp Town Carnival
We've been lax so far in looking up weekend events because, for once, we happen to live near friends. It sounds so wonderful I'll say it again. We have friends in Brighton. Every once in a while we get a call or text from Char, similar to the following: "Naked bike ride today midday at The Level." At that moment we consider ourselves well-informed. View Gallery »