lundi, juillet 31, 2006


Well found out yesterday that it will probably won't be until mid-August before I get my internet up and running at home... Bad timing! Right now I hang out outside one of the hotspots at the university since all the buildings are closed until August 15.

Sadly my battery only lasts about 1 hour and there aren't any plugs outside... So my new internet will arrive when it gets easier to use internet at the university... bad luck!

Oh well it could be worse, I should stop complaining, it is summer for heaven's sake! :-)

samedi, juillet 29, 2006

bagle time!

Now that I own a real freezer that can keep things frozen (yes! A miracle! Even ice cubes!) I ventured out in search of bagels after hearing from other ex-pats that they exist in the frozen variety at Picard. After a sweaty ride up a nice long hill (it was already 26C and humid at 10:00am according to the little city bulletin boards) I entered a frozen paradise, nice and refreshing after the ickyness outside.

I had never been in a Picard although I had often seen them from buses or from a car. It is a weird experience to walk into a store that only has cases of frozen items. It is so hospital-like and sterile.

But at the same time soooooo good!

I found what I was looking for 4 petit pains americains (bagels) for 2.30 euros! Not too shabby! They’ve got all sorts of everything frozen! I didn’t know you could freeze all those kind of things (corn on the cob, soup, filet mignon, sushi?!?) and for pretty reasonable prices. Some things were a bit of a stretch for me but maybe I’ll try them in the future… for the time being there was some raspberry sorbet on sale so I thought I’d try that as a nice summer treat.

mardi, juillet 25, 2006


It's HOT in France these days. I'm talking about hot hot. In past summers we'd get a week of hot, then it would break and thunderstorm, cool off for a while and then a week of hot etc... not this summer!

To give you an idea, I left home at 9:30 this morning and it was already 25C (my rough estimate, no contact withoutside world - ie internet, tv or radio - leaves me making my random guesses...) and now I'm giving a little squeal of joy each time the electric fan passes over me on its little rotation.

I could stay at home, where it is nice and cool due to the ground-floor location and little direct sunlight, but with nothing to do I end up leaving to go run errands or to steal internet from friends.

Maybe tomorrow I'll escape to the beach... this heat makes me sleepy and a nap on the beach is always a nice thing :-)

dimanche, juillet 23, 2006

to bed or not to bed?

That is the question... :-)

When I moved into my new pad the only thing lacking furniture-wise was a bed. My old place had a loft built in and all that was needed was a matress. So I do have that.

But I think I want a bed. A real bed to get rid of the junkie/student appartment look. To store stuff under. To not sleep ontop of dust. To not have a cold winter draft...

The stores here trick you however! When I went price shopping when the tag said "lit" (bed) for only 59E it was not including the "sommier"(over 100E!!) So you could take home a nice big empty frame with nothing to hold up your matress!

Turns out in France they do things a bit different, there are no boxsprings, only this kind of wooden framing that you place inside your bed-frame. Different.

So as I've priced it so far, my cheapest option would run me about 180E without the price of delivery (don't know anyone around here with a truck! haha). Anyone out there seen anything cheaper?

summer road trip adventure

On Monday afternoon Mystery Guest came to Caen and Tuesday morning whisked me off on a road trip to the south of France!

We started off by a very long drive crossing the entire country in 38C+ heat , driving from Normandy to a tiiiiiny village lost in the hills near Lyon. Since we were heading down south Mystery Guest figured it was the time to stop by and visit his cousin and her boyfriend since it had been over a year since he’d seen them. It was so fun, they are really nice and we had a great time sitting in a courtyard of these oooold houses playing cards and chatting.

The region is amazingly beautiful, it reminds me a bit of home, many more hills than Normandy and the crisp scent pines was so familiar. Just driving around was heartwarming.

The next day we drove to the nearby town of Puy famous for its green lentils and a beautiful cathedral. We hiked all around the town and up “into the Virgin” as our hosts put it… ;-) It is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary perched on the peak of a hill overlooking the city, the view of the region made all those steps very worthwhile!

After lunch we left and continued our adventure crossing over into the Dordogne region where we stayed at a cute B&B in Sarlat. I had heard tons about this adorable village, and it was wroth it! The town is amazingly well preserved and as Mystery Guest said, "it's like being in a Medieval theme park" :-) The lady at the B&B recommended a fabulous restaurant for dinner where we made sure to take advantage of regional specialties, I had the dried ham, confit de canard, goat cheese and ile flottante for dessert (of course all accompanied by a local red wine! Yummy!)We hit the sack early after 2 days of long drives and were up early to go see some nearby towns.

The drives on the little roads were beautiful; I think this is one of the most beautiful regions of France that I’ve visited! There are so many hills and towns practically carved into them, facing winding rivers dotted with kayak tours… Just having the windows open, music playing and lively conversation made this trip fabulous.

In the afternoon we visited the caves of Lascaux, impressive! I had always thought that the drawings were much smaller but it is unbelievable that humans did such amazing things 17,000 years ago… it is a humbling experience.

The next day we were off back to Normandy. It was a long drive but there were some stunning sunflower fields to gaze out out the window…!

The couple days was a quick trip but so much fun! To just up and fly by the seat of your pants is the way to go…! Its funny how many inside jokes and tales are created on trips like these. From funny translations in roadside rest stops: “Trush, please put your periodic trimmings” (Trash for sanitary napkins etc…) or driving through towns with names like “Silly” or “Craponne” tee hee. I love it.

lundi, juillet 17, 2006

Croatia Photos Take 2

Yummy Calamari!

The island of Vis

Beaches on Vis

Croatia Photos Take 1

These are all random and out of order but at least Blogger is letting me put a few pictures up!

View of Split

Street in Split

Outside the Blue Caves

Boat ride


Arriving in Hvar

View of Hvar from the Spanish fortress

Outside the Green Caves


Dubrovnik from the Ramparts.

Will try to post a few more plus England... we'll see if it works! Fingers crossed!

samedi, juillet 15, 2006


Natalie came over last night for some enchiladas and coke floats and when she walked in the door tells me, "hey you're not doing anything this summer, you're bored and a lazy bum..." Right, ok this is true. Turns out that a girl she works with just up and quit her job and they need someone asap (as in starting today!) to work! So I'm going to give it a go. The job is at the English shop in town and they need bilingual staff, I've never waitressed before but I went in this morning so they could show me how everything is done and then I go back in this afternoon at 4 to start work!

I figure I'll work today and tomorrow because they are really in a bind, see how it all goes and then they said that if it works out they could use my help until September.


In other news I'm still getting all moved in, I'll take some pictures of the place when its done. I have been trying to post pictures of Croatia but Blogger is just not having it! Anyone else having a problem?

I'll leave you with the 14th of July fireworks from last night... :-)

(yes, I'm really excited about the video function on my new camera... is it that obvious??)

jeudi, juillet 13, 2006

new appartment

Here is a little virtual tour of my new pad... :-)

** took the video down it was messing up stuff...

london baby (well stansted...)

Well we had decided to take the cheapest tickets possible to Croatia… well this involved a somewhat complicated journey… on the way there we went Paris – Budapest – Dubrovnik and then on the way back it was Split – Krakow – London then I spent the night there and flew out the next morning to Tours and then a train back to Caen! Whew!! Busy trip!

It was really fun to go to England for a day though, even though it isn’t very far from Normandy I never go as the transportation there is expensive and just daily life in England is way beyond pricy!! So I took full advantage of my short stay! After a stressful change in Krakow airport (mental note, do not ever change there again!) we arrived Saturday afternoon in London, Stansted. As my flight the next day was early in the morning we decided to stay in the area, we found the nearest hostel in the town of Harlow (about 15 minutes on the train). So we quickly dropped off our stuff and made a beeline for Cambridge, only 45 minutes away. We spent a fantastic afternoon in Cambridge, after walking around for a bit (with the required stop at Marks & Spencers for some cream cheese!) we headed towards the river.

Louise had always wanted to go punting (does this sound like a dirty word to anyone else???) and we found a good deal, 10 pounds for students. Punting is actually a river boat ride, like a Venetian gondola if you will. We were in a long flat boat and the chauffeur guided it along the river by pushing through with a long pole. We went all along the river seeing the main sights of the different colleges dating from the 13th century!

I swear some of the things Louise and I did on our trip were far too romantic, so of course some good boytalk was in order! J After our punt (tee hee still sounding dirty!) we went off in search of some dinner, all I wanted was food that I wouldn’t be able to get back in France so we settled on some pubgrub in supposedly the best pub in Cambridge!

Settling down we ordered some fish & chips (my 1st time! Couldn’t believe I used to be a fish & chips virgin!) and some local beer. While we were watching the 1st half of the Germany-Portugal match a nice English guy offered the two of us tourists another round, in exchange for Louise’s email address and a promise to play tennis the next time we were in town! Lol!

Not wanting to go home too late in the dark we left after half-time to catch the train.

It was a great way to spend a short amount of time in the UK, very British eh?

In other news, I’m all done moving. I’ve got all my furniture down in my new apartment but it was a real puzzle trying to make it fit. I’ve got tons of boxes all over the place and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me but I love my new place! It’s so cute! And I really do feel like it’s a lot bigger! I guess 8 extra square meters really does make a difference! Once I get all my crap organized I’ll take some pictures to show it off! J God, typing this at home just to save it to send in a few days really isn’t the same thing! A computer sans internet seems in a way so useless! I mean I guess its good for looking at all my pictures! hehehe

mercredi, juillet 12, 2006


Hey Folks!!! I'm back safe and sound from Croatia!!! (Sadly I still don't have internet - or a fix line - at home probably until the end of July so posts will be few and far between....) But here is my Croatia post, check back later to see pictures that I'll add in the days to come! :-)

On June 29th after a 9-hour layover in Budapest my friend Louise and I arrived in Dubrovnik. Our first view of the city was incredable! It was around 11pm and the walled city was buzzing with activity and the most beautiful part was the light reflecting on the smooth marble streets. Over the next 3 days we walked the tour of the ramparts (about 2km in 35C heat with no shade!!), took a boat to Cavtat where we swam in the crystal clear Adriatic (and I got suckered into watching the England-Portugal World Cup match) and went on a guided kayak tour. On the tour we paddled across to Lokrum Island where we were greeted by Easter-Island-type men standing erect on the nudie part of the island! After a dinner of fantastic fried calamari we treated ourselves to a cocktail on the terrace. The bars there are amazing as they quite often they put sofas or comfy chairs out to sit on - excellent!!

We were, however, rudly awaken in the wee hours of the morning by the most intense electrical storm I have ever experienced! The thunder and lightening must have been over our heads and was so intense that the door to our room flew open!!! Luckly the torrential rains stopped before we had to walk to the ferry docks!

We had a 4-hour ferry ride to the island of Korcula and stayed the night in the "Happy House" youth hostel... It was nice to have a bit of the youth hostel atmosphere as up until that point we had been renting rooms in B&B type situations. A night out on the town with a real mix of English, Kiwi, Aussie, South Aftrican, American, Dutch, Dannish etc nationalities. It made for a crazy night of hilarious conversation. Before leaving the island we explored the walled city of Korcula, climbing the tour of Marco Polo's house and peeking inside a beautiful cathedral. We had to take a very local bus to the other side of the island (Vela Luka) to catch our ferry.

So a few hours later we arrived in the port city of Hvar on the island of the same name. To find our hotel we had to climb our way through the maze of nameless stone alleyways. Over a yummy seafood dinner in a restaurant filled with Aussies, I secretly celebrated the 4th of July. :-) We reserved a day trip the next day to see some caves on nearby islands. It was one of the best day trips I've ever tkane. An early morning departure took us to a small island, Vis, where we saw the "Green Caves". The boat anchored just outside and we jumped into the clear sea and swam into the caves. There was a hole in the roof and where the light shone through into the water it turned it a beautiful spectacular green. The next stop on the tour was the "Blue Caves" where we boarded small moterboats and went into the caves. Once inside the interior was dark except for an intense blue light coming from the sea! It was one of the most beautiful things that I've ever seen and a truly magical moment. We had a 3-hour break in the town of Komiza where we bathed in the sunlight and the sea :-) The island of Vis itself has an interesting history as while under the formor Yugoslavia no foreign tourists were allowed, it was a military base. As Croatia only became a state 15 years ago this island is very little developed touristically compared to the others we visited.

When we arrived back in Hvar (a bit sunburned...) we decided to try the "Golden Shell" restaurant recommneded by the hotel. It was amazing food with fantastic flavors and sauces! I ordered the lamb in coconut sauce and herb gnocci - delish!

On Thursday we took a long hike up to the Spanish fortress overlooking the city. The view was amazing, especially the contrast between colors, the orange tile rooves against the turquoise Adriatic... Then we were off to the another ferry for the city of Split. Split very much has a big city feel but the town center is very nice. It (the town center) mainly revolves around the ruins of Diocletian's palace which dates from the 300's AD. We visited the bottommost ruins as they are still very much in tact having only been excavated about 50 years ago. We also saw an amazing cathedral full of relics and hiked up the 143 steps to the top of the bell tower for a stunning view of the city. Nearby was the temple of Jupiter, it was my first time seeing real ruins from antiquity having never really explored Italy or Greece. Impressive seeing things built 2 centuries ago with such precision and creativity.

Besides the palace and the many shops there isn't much to do tourist-wise in Split so we spent our last afternoon wandering around, taking pictures and eating ice cream - I love vacation! It has been an amazing 10 days, nothing like I would have expected but then again I'm not quite sure if I actually did have expectations... up until a few years ago I had only traveled in countries who's cultures, history and language were at least a little familiar. But it is such an eye-opening experience to travel to a place like Croatia. It was so unfamiliar. Upon arrival I realized we didn't even know how to say "Thank You" (which we quickly learned thanks to an Italian in an ice cream shop! "Hvala"!) Nor did I know that Croatia didn't even become a country until 1992 or that Dubrovnik lay under seige for over a year just 15 years ago...

Rarely have I ever been so touched by the genuine kindness of the people we were in daily contact with while traveling. The staff in tourist shops that took the time to explain in careful detail about the local specialties, not looking to make a sale but sharing the pride of their country and culture. The old men and women who would stop to help us with directions without being asked and without speaking English, just hand guestures and smiles.

I left Croatia with an amazing experience of a friendly people, facinating history and an absolutly stunning natural landscape!

If that is not a Croatian tourist board add then I don't know what is!!! :-)

- Stay tuned for the next post... my 24 hour layover in England :-) and pictures!

dimanche, juillet 09, 2006

out of the loop...

I'm in England, my last few hours of being on the road and the youth hostel has free internet!

Yea! So I thought I'd just post to say hey :-) I thought that I would have my new internet connection in my new appartment up and running when I got back but turns out there is a glitch, so I will be going through internet withdrawl and posting infrequently... but I'll be back as soon as my new Freebox arrives!!! :-)

Vacation was excellent! To be honest, I think Croatia is one of my favorite countries for traveling in!!! But more to come later, a nice big long post with pictures!

A bientot!!

dimanche, juillet 02, 2006


Just a quick post to say : wow what an amazing city!

I've fallen in love with the marble streets, flocks of swallows and refreshing dips in the Adriatic!

I can't wait to write more as there are so many things to be said, but the Croatian keyboard is beyond annoying :)

So that said I'm off to the islands of Korčula and Hvar tomorrow for more adventures!