Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blogglessness

Man, I just realized I haven't really blogged so much lately. I guess I've just been concentrating on getting everything ready for the arrival of my dear friends - all 6 of them!! They'll be here in 2 days, so we've been sorting out the final details about where we'll be staying on our little side-trips to Brussels and Amsterdam, and what we'll be doing while we're in Paris.

But, Gui and I have still been enjoying our time in Paris. The great news is that Gui signed a contract for a job, and he's very happy that it's in a position and company he likes and, thankfully, it's based in Paris. He was lucky enough to be given the option to start the job on the 11th, so he'll be able to join in on all of the fun while our friends are visiting. The cool thing for me about him finding a job is that we got to go shopping for him - for nice clothes. Not that I don't appreciate and love his regular mode of fashion, but it's nice to see him all dressed up for a change, too. And, it was fun shopping for things we don't usually look for - like ties and jackets.

We've been visiting with friends, too. I got to meet some friends that Gui knows from his young, engineering-school days, and it was fun listening to them talk about their old professors and the times they spent "studying" together. Boys will be boys. We also enjoyed a nice French dinner at a really great restaurant (suggested by Gui's aunt) called Memere Paulette. It was really wonderful, but the unusually gargantuan portions were way too much. The chef came out and suggested a wine for our meal, too, which was pretty cool. The experience was definitely a treat and we'll be recommending it to everyone. The menu is a book about 15 pages thick, with a freshly printed menu every single day, and an enormous wine list. As the chef's a sommelier, he has his accreditations printed in the menu along with an index of various terms used to describe wine. They even have a menu of other drinks, with Coke priced at a whopping 30 euros!! Really funny. The place isn't chic or fancy at all, but it's really authentic and certainly my favorite dining experience in Paris so far. Although, we did have a very nice boeuf bourguignon recently, too, but in a much less authentic setting.

So, that's pretty much what I've been doing since I haven't been blogging....eating. I've also been following the US Primaries, playing Cerebrale Academie & Super Paper Mario, checking schools and jobs, oh, and watching the NFL playoffs (while eating hot-dogs, of course).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I believe

From someone who is struggling with the idea of returning to school simply because I may not be able to afford it, who's seen my aging father struggle to get affordable medical care because he's self-employed, whose mother and step-father don't have the support or compensation they deserve as educators, whose animosity and disdain for a government I once hoped to work for has grown to the point of apathy, I say: YES WE CAN! I believe in change, in the idea that I can once again believe in my government, that I can trust my president to make the choices that will be to the ultimate benefit of the people who deserve it and lack it the most. I believe in change. I believe in Barack Obama, and I'm - once again - hopeful for the future!

Monday, January 14, 2008

LONDON

As predicted, we had a really great visit to London. After answering a few questions at customs in Paris, we boarded our train and headed north toward the big city. It was a bit of a culture shock when I arrived - everyone spoke English, but it took me a while to get used to the British accent. I even thanked someone who held a door for me with a firm "Merci!" before realizing I wasn't required to use my French. We had a great time visiting Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Big Ben, Abbey Road, Brick Lane, the Texas Embassy, and taking a ride on a double-decker. We also spent some time at Oxford Circus drooling over the sales at Top Shop and French Connection (I somehow managed to come away with only a pair of tights - my self-control is improving)!
I finally reunited with my long-time friends over dinner. The Lebanese food was fantastic, but the company was better! It had been nearly 5 years since I saw them last, and they all looked like the same, young Texas Six that I remembered! I wish I could have spent more time catching up with them, but it gives me an excuse to return soon. We also, of course, visited with Gui's sister and boyfriend who have a nice place in Shoreditch. They showed us around their 'hood and took us to a few cool places - one to which I will remember to return. The time we spent in London pretty much reconfirmed my sentiments about the city - it's AMAZING.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Parisian Santa

During the holidays, I started a small collection of pictures of what Parisians consider "Santa coming to town." Instead of coming through the chimney like I was taught to believe, Santa comes through the window - at least in Paris he does. I started taking the pictures mostly because nearly everywhere I turned, I saw a poor Santa hanging outside a window trying helplessly to get inside. It's just another Parisian quirk that I wanted to archive for later. Here are a few of the Santas I was able to snap.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A la prochaine

à la prochaine = until next time


Guillaume and I will be in London from tomorrow afternoon until Sunday. We don't really have an itinerary or even a list of places to see or things to do, so we're pretty much just taking a vacation from vacation. (Not to rub it in or anything.) I guess you could say we're taking a vacation from Paris. It'll be nice to be in an English-speaking country again, and I'm hoping to catch up with some old friends of mine that I've managed to lose touch with over the past few years. Oh, and I love London. I don't think it'll be very difficult to have a nice time in my favorite city, but we're going to try to stick to the low- or no-cost entertainment while we're in the Second-most expensive city in the world.

PS: I've posted a couple more entries below. See you soon!

New Year's Eve in a nutshell

Ok, so you've probably realized I've been a bit behind on posting about our New Year's Eve celebration. Well, that's mostly because I haven't had the time (i.e. patience) to upload all of the pictures we took from the celebration into an album. So, I decided I'd just post a few pics that highlight the night. We celebrated with good friends of Guillaume who live in Clamart (where he grew up), and it seems everyone he grew up with was in attendance. I spoke the most French I've spoken since I've arrived here (that's what happens after one-too-many glasses of celebratory champagne, I guess), and we both started the new year with sugar-filled bellies (thanks to the mountains of Haribo products at arms-length), beacoup bisous (I've never seen so many guys with girlfriends kiss each other) and big smiles. We even danced - who dances at house parties anymore, you ask. The French jeunes - and so do their girlfriends! :) Definitely a NYE celebration for the books.

beaucoup bisous = lots of kisses
jeunes = what France refers to as their young population


I made a quiche and ruined it - freakin' weird French ovens!! :(



All that's left of 5 desserts. Miam miam.







Real champagne, real plastic cups. :)










Happy New Year!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ah, Paris

For a change, we spent the entire day in Paris today. I had been reading about some things to do and places to go in Paris from local bloggers and travelers, and I decided it was time for a little exploration around the city. I'll admit, I haven't taken enough advantage of my new surroundings since I've been here; I guess it's part timidity, part fear and maybe even part laziness. Unfortunately, at the moment our current residence isn't so convenient to all the action of the city, so I really have to be willing to trek into the freezing temps for a long walk there and a long walk back - wherever I want to go.

Luckily, today was pretty warm, and even more luckily, the sun didn't go down after 11am like it usually does! So, we headed out to L'As Falafel in Le Marais for a nice falafel lunch. Gui and I had been to Le Marais last month with his aunt and made an evening visit to Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo once lived that I mentioned in an earlier post, so we decided to pay the area a visit during the day this time. It was the perfect place to finish up our delicious falafel and hang out in the sun for a while.

We met up with a friend of Gui's after a failed attempt to score a macaron at the [closed-on-Mondays] Pierre Hermé shop. Next time I'll do my homework to be sure the place is open before we make the trip on the metro. Lucky for us, Gui's friend always has a huge stash of chocolate, so we were able to cure our sweet teeth before heading back home for some homemade moules et frites. Mmmmm...it was heavenly. I can't wait to have it again in February on our trip to Brussels!!

moules et frites = mussels and fries








I couldn't get enough....so yummy!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Front-page news in Paris

"Obama, a new favorite for the White House"

We've been reading about it, hearing about it, and watching it on TV for the past couple of days. France seems to be as excited as we are about the prospect of Barack Obama becoming the next president. Has America finally learned from its mistakes? I hope we have. Change is coming!
Obama '08!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas Review

So, it took me longer than I thought (I'm sure my procrastination had a little to do with it, too), but here are the pics from my first Christmas in France. We started the celebration on the 24th, with Guillaume's dad's family. It was my first time being exposed to such massive quantities of unlimited food and drink. It seemed like it was never going to end. I overindulged to the point of near-sickness, but it was a good training course for the rest of the week.

On Christmas day, we set out for Guillaume's grandfather's property in Marcq. We spent Christmas day and the day after there, and had a really nice, relaxing time mostly indoors by the fire. Guillaume got to show me the tree he used to climb when he was a kid and we dined on turkey (which I, surprisingly, didn't take pictures of) and the usuals - foie gras, cheese, cake. Before we left, Monique (Gui's grandmother) served us up some of her special spaghetti (Guillaume's favorite). It was to-die-for and perfect before hitting the road back home.

After an evening of rest, we headed out on the 27th to a Russian restaurant to exchange Christmas wishes and gifts with Gui's uncle and cousin. It was a nice change of (eating-)pace, and my first experience eating true Russian food. I had the beef stroganoff as my main course, and it was really great - nothing like the Hamburger Helper I ate in college. :) I also discovered the reason Russian vodka is more expensive - it's so much better! I've had colonel's before (lemon sorbet swimming in vodka), but I usually have problems finishing the vodka after I've finished the sorbet. Not this time! It was a very tasty meal, and wonderful way to finish off the Christmas celebrations.

As for New Year's Eve, I'll have to work on updating my blog with those pics tomorrow. Suffice it to say it was a very good time with LOTS of friends and, of course, lots of food and champagne.






Tuesday, January 1, 2008

See you tomorrow

Ok, so I've been putting off posting a new entry until our last celebration - New Year's Eve. Tomorrow, after relieving my exhaustion tonight, I'll be back with an update and tons of pics to share. Bonne année!!