Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Drove to Rotterdam last weekend with some friends for a Christmas festival.  It was pretty fun, and Rotterdam is actually a really cool city with some great architecture.  We got in super late on Friday so we hit the tail end of the welcome party then went to bed, then on Saturday we had lunch of fried fish and some crazy spicy shrimp that reminded me of Korea at a traditional Dutch market, after which we walked around the city center for a while and bought our cheap secret santa presents for the party later.  Then we went to a beer tasting at this great cozy little pub, then we tried to go to the dinner that was being held but there were no spaces left.  Instead, we went with some other people who also couldn't get in and we ended up going for pizza because it was the only place both open and able to accommodate a largish group.  It was good pizza though, at least!  And cheap, too.  Rotterdam is way less expensive than Paris.  Afterwards we hit the party and did the secret santa exchange;  I ended up with some candles shaped like pebbles, which I'll probably use after I remember to buy a lighter because I like candles.  The party was super fun, everyone was really friendly and the drinks were cheap!  On Sunday we managed to drag ourselves out of bed around 10am despite the coooold so that we could make it to the brunch.  There was bread, cheese, soup, crepes, salad, and scrambled eggs, all for only 7 euros.  After brunch, we took a boat tour of the harbor.  It started off strong, with a great view of all the super cool architecture in the city, but then it deteriorated into a bunch of shipping crates and warehouses and facts about them, at which point I took a little nap.  I met a guy on the boat tour originally from America who is working as a teaching assistant in a public school in Lille, and he gave me the information about the program;  I think I'm going to apply for next year, because it sounds like a great way to be able to stay in France and the salary is way better than au pairing, for only 12 hours of work per week and five weeks paid vacation.  The only problem is I think it might work kind of like the JET program in Japan, where you don't get a choice as to where to live and there's a strong possibility of working in a rural area.  No rural areas for me please!  It's bad enough living just twenty minutes outside Paris!
Anyway, after the boat tour we hopped back in the car to go back to Paris.  We got in around 9pm, and we all went for some Thai food at a restaurant near where the car was parked.  It was deliiiiicious, and it wasn't really expensive either.  I'll definitely be going back there at some point, yum.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

General roundup

It was party time in Paris last weekend!  I went to a cute little bistro on Thursday evening with some friends and had a great time and good food too  (I had a deconstructed mediterranean salad), and two bottles of wine that ended up being only six euros per person, lol.  Gotta love how cheap the wine is here!  Although I guess it also depends on where you go:  I went to Laduree (the one on Champs Elysees) on Sunday evening (after a dinner of fondue, which was delicious) for some macarons, and oh man it is ridiculously inflated.  The macarons were good (although I might prefer Pierre Herme...) but the prices were ridiculous.  12 euros for a glass of kir, which at any regular cafe or bistro will go for anywhere from 3 to 6 euros, depending on how fancy it is / how near a tourist attraction.  6 euros just for a coke.  I guess you're paying for the little stick that says Laduree that they put in it.  Fortunately I wasn't paying!  It's a really nice little cafe and the macarons are priced about average, maybe slightly higher than your local boulangerie but the quality is also slightly higher so there you go, so I guess it would be fine for just some pastries... just don't order anything else, lol. 
Anyway, back to party times!  I went Friday evening to a party on a boat on the Seine, where our group got two bottles of free champagne because we happened to have two people with birthdays that weekend with us.  It was pretty fun, although the next morning I felt all that champagne, haha.  Then Saturday was the actual birthday party for one of my friends here;  it was in her friend's apartment in the 16th because he has a massive place.  (Well, massive by Parisian standards.)  I'm used to tiny sixth-floor walk-ups, so it was a nice change to hang out in a place with some space, and actual rooms, and an elevator!  Although Paris elevators are kind of scary. 
Sunday I went out for the aforementioned fondue and macarons, then yesterday it was off to a poetry reading in Belleville after having dinner at the house with the kids. 
The weather is getting steadily colder, and I'm not pleased.  We finally got some sun today, after over a week of nothing but rain and clouds, but it's still cold.  I'm going to see if I can have a vacation over Christmas and go somewhere like Sicily or Morocco.
This Saturday I'll be going to see Mozart:  L'opera Rock (Mozart:  the rock opera), v. excited even though I will probably only understand around twenty five percent of what is said.  It's okay, I like the music.  Also I wikipedia'd the storyline, lol.  ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USZ7-Hcnuko if you want to check it out.)
Then the weekend after, it's off to the Netherlands for a three day festival!
Look out for more Rome pictures soon, too!  I charged my camera but I haven't put the pictures on my computer yet, I'll post again when I've uploaded them to photobucket.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Some new pictures from Rome are up on my photobucket account!  It's only the ones from my phone for now, my camera battery is dead and needs to be charged.  I'll post about my trip later, right now I'm going to bed!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Busy days

Got a full couple weekends coming up!  No plans yet for tonight, but tomorrow evening I'll be at the Paris version of the 'rally to restore sanity' and then afterwards a Halloween pub crawl;  then on Sunday there's a costume party on a boat on the Seine that sounds fun.  Then of course next weekend it's off to Rome! 
It's been pretty slow otherwise here;  Manon is on vacation but she doesn't really want to do anything so we've been mostly hanging around the house.  I drag her outside in the afternoon for some rollerblading but I haven't managed to get her to Paris yet... maybe Monday or Tuesday.  She's back to school Thursday.  Then Pauline is back from the hospital for good on Wednesday, and she'll be back to school on Thursday as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's v. cold

Tomorrow, I'm on a mission to find the biggest, thickest, warmest scarf I possibly can, preferably under 10 euro if possible.  It is so cold here now.  I'm already researching warm vacation destinations for December or January (I hear Morocco's nice... or maybe the Greek islands).  I'm trying to remember if Korea was this cold in October (Tokyo definitely wasn't);  I don't think it was, I think I remember it not getting consistently super cold until mid-November.  I was able to go out on Halloween in just a tank top and a suit jacket, anyway;  my Halloween costume here in France is going to have to be of an Eskimo.  (The perfect hat for it is on sale at a shop here - I'm looking for warm hats as well and I tried on this fur hat that looked warm.  It was warm, and it was huge!  It was definitely a statement hat.  I'm keeping my eye out for one possibly a little more understated, haha.)
Ok, my episode of the Daily Show just finished downloading so I am off to my bedroom, where there is no internet connection but - important - there is heat.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Free time

Well, I have all afternoon and evening free today because Manon will be at a friend's house... but what to do?  It's so cold out I don't really feel like doing anything outdoors, and I'm trying to save money so no shopping either (although I do really want to buy a thicker scarf, as it is super cold especially in the mornings walking manon to school).  Maybe I'll try to hit another museum or something.  I could probably spare a couple euro for a hot chocolate too.  There's a poetry reading tonight, but it's waaay up in Belleville so I'd have to leave pretty early in order to make the last RER.  Hmm.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Un film international

Went to an indie-arthouse theatre in the latin quarter tonight to see a film being shown for the independent film festival going on.  It was interesting, it was a documentary following a German photojournalist as he traveled around China taking photos and finding insight into the lives of the internal migrant workers there.  There are a lot of people who have families in the countryside but have to travel and live in the cities in order to make enough money to support them.  The film had French narration and French subtitles;  I could read the subtitles but had some trouble with the narration.  There were four different languages going on in the film, the photojournalist spoke in English and sometimes German, the narration was all French, and of course the Chinese people spoke Chinese (and some Cantonese, according to the Taiwanese girl I was there with).  There was a discussion afterwards, but we left after just a little while because neither of us could really understand it, lol.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jazz, wine, dessert

Went to a jazz bar on the rive gauche tonight with another au pair, who it turns out also lives close to St Germain en Laye!  This came in handy when we missed the last RER to the end of the line, and had to get a taxi from Rueil Malmaison.  This was a good learning experience for me, though - it turns out Ruiel Malmaison is actually super close to Le Vesinet by car, and so if I miss the last RER to St Germain but can make it to Rueil, I'm good because the taxi ride will not be super expensive.
Anyway, the jazz was good, it was a little soft for me though (I prefer more lively jazz, with horns;  this was a band with piano, contrabass, drums, and a flute).  The atmosphere was nice, and there were actually quite a few people there.  We're going to try to go to some more jazz bars in the future, her host family is really into jazz and can tell her all the places to hit.  We went to a cafe afterwards and had dessert;  I had a creme brulee, and it was delicious.  Speaking of delicious French desserts - I found a Laduree in St Germain des Pres, and although I didn't go in for a macaron because there was a line stretching out the door, I'll be going back on a wednesday or something to try one.  I tried Pierre Herme last weekend and it was delicious, so now I have to try Laduree to compare.


I finally got my Navigo, yay~!  Now I don't have to wait in line to buy tickets for the metro, awesome.  So much more convenient.  I also opened a bank account, finally.  I can transfer money online for less fees, so yay for that. 
Went to a picnic yesterday at the Tuileries, it was fun even though it was kind of chilly and overcast (it didn't rain though, good).  It's sunny today so I'm probably going to go walk around Paris a little bit before meeting up with some au pairs to go to a jazz bar. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's window-licking good

Did some window shopping today - or, as the French say, 'leche-vitrine', lit. window licking.  How funny is that?  Learn something new every day.  I gotta save up my euro like woah so that I can afford a nice bag during the winter sales when they go half price or more!  There are sales going on all over the place now;  I went into Galeries Lafayette to take a look around and everything was 30-50% discount, even luxury brands.  There was a LINE to get into the Longchamp store because they were doing 50% and I guess everyone wants a Longchamp bag (it does seem to be the bag of choice here, seems like everyone has one - even my host mom has a Longchamp bag.  The other bag of choice is the Vanessa Bruno sequin tote, which half the moms at Manon's school have).  I also made the mistake of going and looking at the designer shoes.  There are some really awesome shoes out there.  Who wants to give me five hundred bucks so I can get a pair of Lacroix or Louboutins?  lol. 
Anyway it's pretty late here so I'm off to bed, got to take Manon to school and then off to my French class tomorrow morning. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

International jetsetter

I just booked my ticket for Rome the first weekend of November!  I'm super excited to do my first bit of European traveling.  I got a round-trip plane ticket for only 50 euros, amazing.  I love that inter-country flights can be so cheap here, I'm definitely going to be taking advantage of this. 

Monday, October 11, 2010


Paris is beautiful, although the weather is miserable.  I'm taking French classes and the teacher is awful, but hopefully I will be able to pick up something from the class despite this.  After Tokyo, Paris seems really inefficient, like super inefficient, but I forgive it so far because it's also awesome.  It's so different from Asia, everything is so old and so European and there are no skyscrapers.  There's an ordinance in place that buildings can't be over a certain height, I guess to preserve the ancient ambience.  The little town that I'm staying in is super tiny and super expensive, and also really old and pretty.  There's a park with a lake right next door, and basically the whole town is just clustered around the church.  It's only 20 minutes to Paris on the train though, so I've been going into Paris every chance I get.  I love the cafe culture, it's great to just pop into a sidewalk cafe and have a coffee and read a book or something.  The crepes aren't as decadent as Tokyo crepes though.  Here the fillings are just things like sugar or Nutella, instead of ice cream and cheesecake and whipped cream like in Harajuku.  Still good for a walking snack though.  The savory crepes are better than in Tokyo though;  I had one with goat cheese and tomato that was delicious.  My new favorite salad is the chevre chaud, which is a salad topped with goat cheese on toast.  Yum.  I've had it a couple times already, the best one was at this little cafe on rue St Honore that did a salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber slices, and apple slices, and four little pieces of toast that were nice and crispy.  I've discovered a great flavor of ice cream too, salted caramel.  It's so good!  It's going to be too cold for ice cream soon though.  Actually it already is, but we've been having a few days here and there are that are still nice.

Last weekend was one such nice weekend, so I spent it walking around areas of Paris I hadn't been to before.  I went around the latin quarter and the Marais, and walked through the Luxembourg gardens and stopped there for a little while with a caramel buerre sale ice cream and a book : )  I want to live in that area if I end up staying in France after a year and move up into Paris proper.