I never even knew this and I’ve fed bread to ducks multiple times! D: Definitely reblog this so everyone knows!
5 November 2012
I just got back from my first trip ever that I planned alone! And I really sucked at planning it! Flights and trains were at weird times, hostels were expensive, clothes were all wrong, time was poorly allotted, and then I got my wallet stolen. Overall, it appears to be a good thing that I have 8 more months of Euro-planning to get better at it!!! At the same time, I can’t help but be extremely happy about how it all went down because each city was incredible and I’m still alive. Here are some highlights and things I’m thankful for from my time in Brussels, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen!
Highlights of Toussaint Trip 2012
- Grand Place in Bruxelles—most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen and allows for lots of opportunity to do gangham style with strangers and make Asian friends.
- Getting caught in a massive hailstorm in the middle of an insanely busy highway intersection and not only making it out alive and laughing but getting onto the metro home for free.
- Morning runs in Bruxelles and Amsterdam. Cobblestone streets make for some ankle twists and turns but nothing make you feel more like an accomplished badass than running through botanical gardens and around canals while it’s raining then returning to your hostels to serious awed looks of, ‘you’re running on vacation??’
- The Bruxelles Bisquiterie by Mannekin-Pis with homemade Speculos and the most amazing selection of lightly rolled pasterie cigars, all for under ,50 eurocent each.
- Stumbling upon the German church in North Bruxelles with an amazing friend at sunset surrounded by fall colors and smells…. Bliss.
- Consistently knocking the white ball in a generally sucking at pool then telling everyone I was French so I didn’t embarrass the States.
- Meeting the Green Fairy, collecting 3 business cards, and generally lying about everything o everyone in bars. Here’s looking at you, Italian pilots for Ryanair.
- Walking down Damtrak in Copenhagen in search of a place to eat my first but definitely not last Wok to Wok. The carnival, the pigeons, the people, the cold, the sun, and spicy spicy food.
- Keeping my ish all together and leaving early to walk my friend Andy safely home.
- Reading The Navigator by Morris L. West, with its sweet words of wisdom, and making a blanket cocoon in my enormous hostel bed.
- Drinking the most expensive hot chocolate ever in line for Anne Frank and being able to walk around freely, high, sober, cold, hot, drunk, brunette, American, short, etc without the fear of persecution or discrimination.
- Watching Cory and Andy eat Kebab meat inside the delicious vegetarian falafel and garlic fries restaurant near Red Light.
- Gallery-browsing after enjoying an espresso and Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers in a coffeeshop. The Diana Arbus photography exhibit was one of the most fantastic collections of black and whites I’ve ever seen and truly made me appreciate photography as an art and a means of telling a story.
- Listening breath-abated to my little Australian walking tour guide in red recounting the story of Denmark’s James Bond while shivering in the rain across from the three-time world’s best restaurant Noma and the Opera with the hidden Christiania flag.
- Obsessing for hours by myself over the remains of mummies and preserved bog bodies in the Danish National Museum and being simultaneously fascinated and horrified and the ingenuity and cruelty of human beings.
- Talking about everything, front and back, with Heather, Leslie, and Julia Roberts after finishing a box of George DeBoeuf’s Beaujolais Nouveau. Nothing beats the nights in.
- Running across the No J-Walk Danish street by the library after 30 minutes of carefree sidewalk trampoline jumping and dodging stray buses and bikes.
- Eating a traditional 6 hour Danish meal in a totally hoogley Copenhagen suburb. I particularly enjoyed the meaningful conversation with the father, the pickled cabbage, the whipped cream, the fantastically eloquent and breathtakingly beautiful 15 year old, and the collection of fancy liquors passed around the table.
- Getting told by the Christiania guy that “this trashcan fire is not for, it for me. You, you go find your own now,” in an uncanny impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Looking out over the White Sensation crowd and feeling completely and totally young and free.
- Buying a metro pass to the airport instead of stealing it, risking a fine, and betraying the good trust of the Danes.
- Overwhelming generous Zurich Airport information lady who gave me 13 euro to get home from St. Exupery.
And now, some Things I Learned In The Past 11 Days
- French people really are the worst.
- Lying is not very satisfying.
- Gaufres make me feel sick and muscles taste disgusting.
- I LOVE America.
- My blue Gap jacket barely a jacket makes.
- Umbrellas are impossible to hang onto.
- People are always surprising, both in good ways and in bad.
- Pack less and do laundry.
- Make use of hostel kitchens and hoard free breakfast foods for later consumption.
- Pay more for flights without layovers.
- Always keep back up cash somewhere random and keep passport close. Beware of backpacks.
- Choose travel buddies wisely and be flexible.
- Two to three days in a city is sufficient.
- Traveling alone is fun and fulfilling.
Now back to school and onto the next adventure!
14 October 2012
Today was a great day full of culture and surprises. Lyon was absolutely alive and welcoming. Yesterday, my friends Amanda, Katherine, and her friend Brian (who’s from Uganda!) went out to late night desserts around 10:30. I got a delicious Nutella covered waffle, still hot and crunchy on the outside yet so gooey and soft in the middle, and only 3,80 euros! Totally worth it. I was able to get an early night and I planned to wake up early this morning and go to yoga at 10:30. I don’t know what’s going on with me and getting to yoga class, but this is the third day in a row that I have been late to class, and the second that I had to just skip because it was too rude to come in. I really need to get my act together because I spent money on a monthly and by god I’m getting my money’s worth despite leaving town at the end of the month.
After leaving the studio with my head hung in shame, I walked around and wound up by a bridge over one of the rivers. There’s a children’s park right next to it and it was fun listening to how excited they were about, well, everything. It was a beautiful crisp fall day so I snuggled up on a wall and did some reading. Just as my bum was completely frozen and I was about to leave, I heard marching bad music of some sort coming down the river walk. It was some kind of small promotional parade with a bunch of people playing band music and others walking around them in aprons handing out fliers. It was so cool and they played that one Russian dance song and it was a great moment, though I didn’t get a chance to grab a flier. I continued across the bridge and wound up on one of the main shopping strips of the city, Rue de la Ré (République, but everyone just says Ré), and there was ANOTHER, bigger marching band there and they were even better than the other reject guys by the river. I walked along with them for a while and got a little brochure advertising an upcoming Beaujolais wine tasting in one of the squares! Having just done my project on Beaujolais, I actually consider myself an expert on the different appellations and crus offered, and would love to go.
Although I hate myself to admit it, I ended up in a Starbucks ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte to celebrate autumn. Theres a surprising lack of straight up cafés in Lyon, to be honest. They all sell a lot of food and get ticked if you only order drinks, and very few have wifi. This Starbucks, on the other hand, was warm and cozy and had a side room lined with bookshelves and computer outlets with a huge wooden table and free, fast wifi. I actually got a lot of work done and was there for around 3 hours. I stopped and ran some errands, buying new nail polish, peanut butter, whole wheat pasta, and leggings, then went home. I procrastinated in my room for a half hour then convinced myself to go on a run which has been seriously tricky without my iphone to track my mileage. I was intending to do a route I did the day I broke my phone that I know it a little over 2 miles, and then add a little in the beginning for about 2.5-3 miles and aim for a 25 minute run because that’s how long my new playlist is. But as I wound my way up the hill towards the huge basilisica that overlooks the city, I felt compelled to go towards instead of left along the Lyon cemeterie like normal.
Since it was such a beautiful day, the area was flooded with people and alive with energy. I got a lot of encouraging “Bonjour”s “Bonne Chance”s et “Bon Courage”s along the way and that was awesome so instead of turning around after 3 songs, aka about 1.5 miles, I just kind of kept going. There’s this huge Eiffel Tower look alike that the Lyonnais built hoping to attract more tourists (unsuccessfully, btw, so they turned it into a TV and Satellite station) by the Cathedrale that is accessible from the other side of the hill and has a route back down to my house, so I was thinking I could find that, but the street I was on took me behind the Tower and across a hill and down about 1000 steps into the centre ville. Oops because I would have died trying to run up thestairs, but yay because I felt awesome and there was some kind of music festival going on in town. I ran until I reached an incline the leads up to around my area and ran up half of it before I started walking. I had run more at this point that I have done in a long time and my legs were dead tired and I had this awkward cramp in my stomach/back. Walking through a rose garden and trails overlooking the city, I listened to the music from down below and let it carry me home. A little less than a mile from home, I started running again and made it home in record time, really wishing I had the ap to tell me how fast/ far I really went. I think it ended up being about 4 miles, .75 uphill walked. I cooled down like usual in the Roman ruins and did a really nice strengthening yoga sequence for 30 minutes while a few boys eating lunch under a yellowing tree shot me really weird looks.
After getting home, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while listening to a French podcast in my living room. It was fantastic and I was planning on just taking a shower and chilling out, but my friend texted me and said she was just on the metro and there was apparently a zombie walk going on in town! I told her I’d meet her in Place de Bellecour in 20 minutes, so I washed up as best I could and hopped on a bus for town. The weird back/stomach cramp never quite went away and kept getting worse as I got into town. I thought I was dehydrated, so I grabbed a coconut water upon leaving the house, but it just made me want to throw up and so uncomfortable and I knew it was one of those things I’d have to try wait out. When I arrived, the square was completely packed with the living dead– les morts vivants. I’ve never seen such good outfits and makeup in my life. There were prosthetics, scars, dangling eyeballs, and of course lot of blood. Many of them were still in character and were groaning and dragging their arms and feet, and we watched as one zombie clown on a unicycle chased a teenaged girl around the statue.
The zombie band was really neat, but my favorite was a guy in anun’s habit with completely blacked out eyes and green skin. The square was the end of the walk so unfortunately we arrived at the tail end of everything and only got to enjoy it for about 15 minutes before everyone started breaking off. My stomache was totally cramped up at this point, so I decided to go home and sleep it off for a few hours. I still feel very weird and I’m homing it’s not any type of food poisoning or a sports injury. I could have hurt my back running or doing yoga, and I sampled some questionable meet earlier when I was at the store. Bleh, back to bed. Until tomorrow, beautiful and mysterious city!
5 October 2012
I had some trouble getting up this morning and although I had every intention of getting up super early and going for a run, it just did not end up happening. But I finally rolled my way over to one of the bigger train stations, Part-Dieu, by 9 to meet my friend Alexandra to go to Avignon! I spent a good amount of time choosing an outfit for the day because it’s chilly in the morning and evening, but Avignon was forecasted to be 75 degrees! I tried to convince myself to wear my white jeans one last time before I retire them for winter, but it just felt kind of weird. The train station was a huge mass of people and that early morning numbness that accompanies the rush to work before coffee kicks in. We made our way to the platform and had plenty of time to take in the city before our train arrived. It was a gloomy and foggy day in Lyon and I was only wearing a tank top, thin jacket, and scarf and I started getting immediately nervous that the fog and chill would stretch to Avignon. The train was barely full and we were able to score four seats all to ourselves, each sitting by a window to enjoy the passing countryside.
We spent the next two hours admiring small villages, each which seemed more adorable than the last, with petite old houses brimming with character and history. We passed cemeteries, hillsides, lakes, cliffs, forests, and a particularly interesting village that was composed of three mountainsides completely covered in vineyards. Every ten meters or so, there would be a huge sign pronouncing the who owned the plots, and it seemed to all by owned by the same man or family. Basically, the whole economy of the small village depended on the enormous vineyard that wound its way around and encompassed the town. Alexandra and I both swore we would remember the name and buy some wine to try it out. One day later, and all we remember is that it began with a C.
We just broke out of the fog when it was announced that our next stop was Avignon. It was sunny and gorgeous afterall, with a bright blue sky and an intense heat from the afternoon sun. Avignon is a fairly large area, but a medieval wall encompasses the actually touristy town center that we were interested in. A Big main road leads through the center, decorated on either side by pubs, bars, little cafés, and clothing stores. We meandered our way down the street, popping into a small boutique or two, casually chatting about fashion, wine, and the perks of small town and city life. I was thrilled to find that Alexandra wasn’t one of those stressed out travellers and we could enjoy our time rather than always be on our way to a destination.
She had prepared a sandwich for lunch, but I stopped and bought a chicken Panini from a small shop and we rested in la Place d’Horloge for about 45 minutes people watching. Strangely enough, we couldn’t see a clock or a tower and have no idea why it was named Place d’Horloge. There was a merry go round and a couscouserie, which had a menu completed arranged around couscous in every dish; mental note for that one. Eventually making our way over to Palais des Papes, we were struck by an enormous and grand white building looming over the city and us. During the Catholic schism of the church, many popes resided in Avignon, each adding to the great palace. Although it originally only took 20 years to build (incredible because it’s first form was still enormous) it has since been through constant reconstruction, deconstruction, and straight up annihilation. It was used as a prison by Napoleon and many of the frescos and paintings that originally adorned the walls were destroyed. Unfortunately, very little remains of the actual decorations, but we were able to walk around the entire building and spent about 3 or 4 hours reading all the signs and listening to the little audio tours (in French of course).
By the time we got out, Alexandra was stressing a little and was very concerned about seeing the bridge. It was an easy walk down to the pont, but it became pretty clear pretty fast that Alexandra has an awful sense of direction and she kept stopping to check the map and asking strangers where we were going. It was seriously a straight line, but I just let it happen and sat idly by while everyone confirmed by directions. We reached the bridge in late afternoon. It was still very warm, with a slight breeze and there was the most breathtaking golden light reflecting off the river and over the bridge. It felt very iconic, especially after everything you told me about le Pont d’Avignon! There were lots of information about the song and the history of the bridge. It was built way back in Roman times and only 4 of the original 22 arches remain today. Over time, foods and war destroyed the rest. It was very beautiful and peaceful, and it’s completely understandable why it inspired the song. In fact, the whole city was quaint and elegant, with a relaxed and inviting charm. The food was cheap and relatively delicious and the people were friendly and lively. I think it’s one of my favorite cities I’ve been to.
We ended the day devouring delicious raspberry tarts while waiting for Alexandra’s train. She was taking the same route home, but I had bought a ticket for the TGV, which would take half the time, and ended up being one of the funnest parts of the trip. The high speed rail was actually terrifyingly fast and wobbled precariously on the tracks, but it was double decker and warm and filled with young people. I read Frankenstein the whole way home and got off in Lyon feeling like a badass. There were lots of travellers with luggage and cumbersome bags and I just swept right past them and onto the metro. The station had a completely different feel at night than that morning; it was alive and full of energy, all the people a little wind blown and rosy cheeked, but bright eyed and speed walking. The energy carried me all the way home, where I then collapsed on my bed cursing my fashionable flats and giant blisters, and went straight to sleep.
27 September 2012,
In order to accommodate my eating habits while being here, I’ve been trying to come up with an exercise regime that is easy to maintain, gets me moving, and makes me happy. Obviously, yoga is where it’s at. I bought a great pair of Nike running shoes here about a week ago (Nike brand, pronounced ‘Neek’ in French, is the but of many jokes as ‘nique’ or ‘niquer’ mean to fuck) and made a deal with myself to run every other day. I’m not going to push myself, just aim for 2 miles 3-4 times a week, taking only about 20 minutes a day, which is completely do-able. Next to my building is the old ruin of a Roman church. After I run, I go onto the ruins and do some sun salutations to stretch out and cool down. It’s fantastic, but I wanted to have more structure so I started looking for a studio I could attend.
I found one online called OYoga, which seemed like a sign because of the Oregon O. Also, it welcomes foreigners, offers bilingual classes, and has mats free of charge. I went for the first time today! It’s definitely not close to where I live, and I took two metros to get there and, not sure how long it would take, arrived an hour early to class. So I walked around the neighborhood, which has a lovely park that even has a public toilet that you don’t have to pay for. When the time for class approached, I went back to the street of the studio and looked at the door. The studio seemed to be inside an apartment building. I pressed the button for OYoga on the doorbell/list thing and waited. Nothing. Well shit.
I decided wait and watch was my best tactic here, so I nonchalantly leant against the storefront a few doors down and starred at everyone who passed by this big oak door. Finally, a woman in yoga pants walked in front of me, so I started stalking her, hoping I could just squeeze in behind her after she magically got the door open. It turns out, however, that is was also her first time at the studio and she also just stood there, very confused, gazing at the door. We talked a bit and were pondering how to get in when a tenant from the building opened the door. We cheered! Then we walked into the dark hallway and kind of crept down the hall, hoping we wouldn’t see anyone. Luckily, the studio was located just at the end of the corridor and a radiantly beautiful yogi woman greeted us and gave us sheets to fill out. She deduced I was American, and after telling her I was from Reno, she exclaimed that she had been born in Vegas and went to school at UNR! What are the chances? She graduated 15 years ago (which threw me because I wouldn’t have guessed she was a day over 24) so I’m sure we didn’t know her or have many people in common, but we were both really struck by how random it was. She moved to Madrid after graduating with a degree in Psychology where she met her husband. Together, they moved to Lyon 8 years ago and she opened the studio with a French friend.
There were two other English speakers besides myself in the class, so she went about instructing in both English and French. It was so so so neat to hear the instructions in both and I learned a bunch of new words: ‘talons’- heels, ‘taille’- waist, ‘quatre-quatre’- all fours. The class was not very challenging, but the room had an excellent, healing vibe, and my mudras were flowing by the time I left. I went to the bakery next door and order a sandwhich, a pastry, and a water ‘à emprunter’- to go- and started walking home. I stopped on a pedestrian bridge traversing the Rhone River and looked out across my city, taking in the buildings, the water, the orange-tinged trees, the skyscape, the people, the air, the wind, the clouds—and I felt infinite. I can’t wait to share this city and this studio with you.