WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Tag: Living Abroad Page 2 of 3

Springtime in Lyon & a “weekend” in Rennes

So, I’m pretty well at the end of my séjour in France. I’ll be back in Calgary 3 weeks from today & I actually leave Lyon in one week. I’ll be heading up to Munich for a few days, then on to Prague & back down to Strasbourg before heading back to Lyon to pick up my bags & taking the train up to Paris for a final day before the long flight home. This also means that I’m on to my final 4 shifts at Starbucks. No more free coffee for me…I’ll have to figure out a new plan to support my caffeine addiction, I suppose. 

Anyways, I’ve been enjoying a really nice spring over here. All the terraces are back out & there’s nothing better than a drink on a terrace after a busy day at work. The grass is green, trees & flowers are in bloom & I’ve even got a bit of a tan. In fact, my friend Jamie (who’s father is black) was mad the other day because I’m just as “tanned” as she is. I don’t really know how this has happened, but I’m not going to complain. Perma-tan is cool with me. 

The majority of my international friends in Lyon took off travelling for spring break at the beginning of April, so I had a pretty chill week. Jamie stuck around a little bit longer so we spend a lot of time together. I never would have thought that shopping could involve so much walking, but we hit the market, rue de la ré (in the center), croix rousse (my neighbourhood up the giant hill) & Part Dieu shopping mall in one day. Did I mention that neither of us have cars or bus passes this month, so we went all over on food. & if that wasn’t enough, we headed over to Rachel’s that night to make pizza, popcorn & watch Bridget Jones’ Diary. It was a pretty good day, shopping-wise as well as food (bagels at City Bagels in town!! yum!) & company-wise. We also managed to enjoy a beer on a terrace & relaxed in the park for a while. Ah yes, life is tough for me. The following night, I headed over to Rachel’s again to watch Remember the Titans. Classic. 

They both took off for Rome the next day though, so I had a pretty lowkey weekend at home. I’d bought a train ticket to Rennes that week & hopped on a train early Monday morning last week to head over to one of my favourite cities in France. I’d been expecting somewhat dreary, cold weather in Rennes, but I arrived to find cloudless blue skies. I found my way to the Youth Hostel & set out for the day, grabbing a picnic lunch on my way to Parc du Thabor. The park there is absolutely beautiful. There are so many beautiful flowers & trees & the grass is so green (it rains a lot, so that’s really no surprise). I spent a good chunk of the afternoon there enjoying the sun & relaxing. I finally decided it was time to leave & got ambushed by some guy as I was leaving the park. He was fairly nice & incredibly chatty, but I really wasn’t interested. Problem is, I really don’t know how to tell people I’m not so interested in French without being incredibly rude. & he wasn’t being incredibly bothersome, I just wasn’t interested in having a drink or dinner with him. I do however, now have a place to stay in Paris, should I ever need. (haha, ya right) Anyhow, he accompanied me to the Tourist Office & then down to the metro & waited for me to buy myself a ticket even (I’d lied & told him I was going up to Villejean to meet friends) before taking off. I saved my ticket for Thursday morning, when I’d be leaving Rennes & went for Ice cream at Quick instead of meeting my imaginary friends in Villejean. 

I spent the rest of the evening wandering around Rennes. The city is really quite small so around every corner I found something familiar. I couldn’t go anywhere without being hit with some memory from when I lived there. The city was virtually unchanged which was a bit of a surprise. It was nice though, however unexpected. I have such fond memories of Rennes, so it was wonderful to just wander around. It’s hard to explain, but that city will always be something special to me. 

Hanging out in Parc du Thabor 

green grass, sunny day, perfect picnic in the park

so pretty

les portes mordelaises: original gates into Rennes

For dinner that evening, I indulged in some typical Breton food- a galette complète at one of the many crêperies in town. Galettes are savoury crêpes that you can find all over Brittany. They’re made with blé noire (dark flour, black flour??) & are one of my favourite things about Brittany. A galette complète has jambon, oeuf, fromage (ham, egg, cheese) on it. There are tons of other combinations however. 

galette complète: jambon, oeuf, fromage

Rennes square

The following day, my good luck with the weather ended. It was rainy & cloudy as I set out for the day after breakfast. I decided to head up to Villejean. It’s not really your typical tourist attraction in Rennes. In fact, it’s not really a nice neighbourhood at all. It’s where the Université de Rennes 2 (aka where I went to school) is. It’s also where my rez was, so I know the neighbourhood pretty well. The school was completely unchanged, apart from perhaps some new paint to mark the building letters & more graffiti. It’s not the prettiest school around. Rez looked exactly the same as well, aside from renovations on the inside. (Excuse me?! Toilets IN the rooms?! not fair!!) Seeing as it’s easter break right now, everything was pretty deserted & it  was a little bit eerie. Not quite as bad as when the entire school was on strike though. 

I wandered back to the center afterwards & did some shopping. For such a small city, Rennes really does have incredibly good shopping. Furthermore, people actually wear colours other than black & grey or some shade between the two. It was incredibly refreshing to see people in hoodies & colours! That night I went to my favourite moulerie/crêperis: L’Abri du Marché. It is so cozy & cute & looks right out onto Place des Lices. I had Moules du Nord, which were muscles with crème fraiche, smoked salmon & leek. It came with homemade french fries & a dipping sauce. I also got a nice glass of white wine & enjoyed the meal. I’d been looking forward to Breton food the entire time I’ve been in France. Actually, I’ve been looking forward to it, since I left in 2006. Yes, it’s that good! I decided to splurge & get dessert as well. I had a dessert crêpe called La Houat which was pear, raspberry coulis & whip cream. Basically: amazing! 

the most delicious moules et frites! Brittany

The following day got even better weather-wise. By the time I arrived to the centreville, I was completely soaked. I had also learned that my rain jacket is, in fact, not waterproof. Sweet. I tried to spend most of my time inside. Wandering around the exhibition at the tourist office, the mall & little shops along Rue du Bastard. Finally I decided it was time for some lunch & headed to another crêperie, this one on Rue St Georges. I enjoyed a galette chevre miel (goat cheese & honey) & a crêpe caramel buerre salé. Caramel & butter in Brittany are both salty, which I love. I’m much more a savoury person, so I really enjoy the buerre salé. & yes, part of the reason I came back to Rennes was for the food. Food is France is delicious, but I especially love the food from Brittany. (we all know my stomach is in charge of most of my decisions…) 
In the afternoon, I headed back to the hostel & took a siesta before making dinner. In the kitchen at the hostel, I met a few guys on exchange in Brest. (ya, I know….sucks to be them…). There were 2 spaniards & a belgian. They shared some beer & brownies with me & we decided to head out for drinks all together. We headed to Kenland first where there happened to be a football game on there. We had a drink there & then they took pity on me & decided to change venues. We headed to Le P’tit Velo, which used to be one of my favourite bars in Rennes. I think they were going renovations though because it wasn’t as large as I remember it being. It was still a nice evening on a terrace in Place St Michel. We headed back to the hostel pretty early so I could pack for the following morning. It was time to go home & back to work, sadly. 
Everyone was back in Lyon when I got back & we all met up at Kate’s on Friday night for a drink & some Starbucks cookies & cake. Then Kate & I headed out to Vieux Lyon to meet up with Anne. I hadn’t hung out with her in ages so it was nice to see her despite the bar being incredibly crowded. There was also a really great band playing covers of Coldplay & the like. It was a good night. I worked the rest of the weekend & then Sunday night headed over to Kate’s to make poutine. Turns out she’s never had it before! It wasn’t as good as when Alyssa & I made it because she didn’t have compté, but it was still quite good. We hadn’t had a sleepover in ages so we did that as well. How grade 7 of us. 😉 haha. 
The next morning I headed out on my velo’v to work. I had picked up a shift to help Nadya out while everyone was doing this training stuff at the other store. I got off at 1 & met my friend Johan that I worked with at Republique (he was my tutor). He wanted to take me for a drink because he headed off to Alsace to see his family & wouldn’t be around to say goodbye. We were both starving though so we ended up at Ninkasi. It’s this little chain in Lyon that has great beer & burgers & fries. It’s so good! We chatted & hung out there for a few hours & then headed back to Starbucks to say hi to some of the others & ended up hanging out for a good chunk of the afternoon with my store manager, shift supervisors & DM. 
Yesterday, I randomly found out it was Free Ben & Jerry’s day! Jamie, Kate & I met in Vieux Lyon & had our fill of free Ben & Jerry’s. It was delicious. They even let people have refills! We were pretty stoked about the random find…especially since the weather was so good. 

Free Ben & Jerry’s day!

So, that’s about it…I’m now in procrastination mode. I should really start getting organized & packed, but we all know that’s not going to happen before the weekend. I have to move all my stuff to my friend, Rachel’s, by Tuesday & knowing me, I won’t start packing until Monday. Smart idea considering how much stuff I’ve accumulated. Oh no…
Anyways, I’ve bored you long enough with my random adventures. I’m sure to have even more exciting stories as I head off for a couple weeks of last minute travel. I’m already dreaming of all the delicious food I’m going to enjoy….& the beer!. Yup, I’ve picked 3 cities that are very proud manufacturers of beer. Now I just need to plan a trip to Belgium & I’m all set on that front!

me & my perma tan in vieux lyon

A trip to the boulangerie

For less than a euro, I can experience one of the best things about living in France: baguette. It is a well known fact that I love food. I spend hours perusing the Food Network website, I plan most of my travel with the regional specialities in mind & I make a conscious effort to make good meals- all because I love food.

baguette & petit bulletin. perfect!

So, it’s really no surprise that I love baguettes. In fact, a trip to the local boulangerie is one of my favourite things. Not only can baguettes make for a cheap meal, but I can somehow manage to incorporate them into every meal I make. I swear there is nothing better than picking up a fresh baguette & lucking out with a wonderfully warm one. I think the only think that may trump that is a pain au chocolat, fresh out of the oven or otherwise. 
the perfect addition to a picnic in the park
Most people think of croissants when they think of French breakfast, but I’ll take a pain au chocolat instead any day. Not only is it really French (whereas croissants are sometimes touted as being Viennese, hence them being called viennoiserie in France…although pain au chocolat falls under that category as well), but it’s got a little bit of chocolate to kick-start your day. I’m not generally once to enjoy chocolate in the morning, but even I find this little hint of chocolate delightful! 

good intentions

Before I left for France, I was probably in the best shape I’d been in since I swam. Or at least, I was on my way… Working at the Y & having lots of free time seems to bring that out in me. I mean, free gym membership to a good, well equipped gym? Why not use it. So I was working out at least 4 days on, one day off. Running, biking, swimming, weights, core…you name it..& then I came to France….

Last time time I lived in France, in Rennes, I swam for the school so I at least had 3 hours of that a week. It didn’t compare for swimming for the U of C (3 hrs vs 23 hrs) but it was something. When I first got to Lyon, it was warm enough to run outside, so I did quite a bit of that. I also tried to swim at the pool here, but I quickly learned that that was more frustrating than satisfying. It’s times like that where I wish (for a split second) that I wasn’t such a good swimmer. I have to work so much harder to get my heart rate up & have to swim so many meters for it to be worth it & that’s just not possible at the pool here, sadly. 
Winter arrived & I could no longer run outside in shorts. I can’t bring myself to run in pants (it drives me nuts) so I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to get my exercise from all the walking & velo’ving I was doing. & I am sadly out of shape now. I miss the gym & doing weights & going for a swim whenever I want. I love being in shape & feeling good & being somewhat toned. I always felt like I wasn’t in great shape, but looking back now, I really was. 
Now that April is here, I can run outside again in shorts & I’m so excited about this. It’s also dry enough for the most part to bike at least one way to or from work, so that’s exciting as well. It’s nice to not be in hibernation anymore. & I definitely need to start working out again to prepare for a summer of hiking & backpacking. I’m way too competitive & proud to let any mountain kick my ass. 
So now begins my getting back into some kind of shape. The goal is to do pushups & abs & squats to make up for my lack of weights & to run at least 3 times a week, plus bike & walk places as much as I can. I haven’t bought a metro pass this month, so not only is this good for me, it’ll also save me money on public transportation. 
As usual, I am so full of good intentions…we’ll have to see how successful I am at carrying them out though now.  

tu me manques

seeing as I’ve done the whole living in France thing once before (& I’ve done a decent amount of travelling), I’ve been pretty good about the homesickness & culture shock aspects of being in a different country for a prolonged period. I mean, I’m online all the time. I send countless messages to people. I’m always checking facebook, skype, gmail…all methodes of communication. but, I think that’s fairly normal. & I think that i have a good outlook on most things. I don’t let the little things get to me (for the most part-PMS always brings out that side of my a little bit.). I haven’t had an “I hate France, I’m booking a flight home now” moment at all. I’ve been around people who’ve had them & actually stood up for France, which surprised me. It shouldn’t, seeing as I knew what I was getting into when I came over here & still decided to go & put up with the sometimes ridiculous bureaucracy. But I’ve learned to laugh it off & to think: “It could always be worse. It was my choice to come here. I could be back in Calgary with not much to show for my year off”.
Anyways, that being said, I’m not immune to homesick moments. They just seem to be short & more nostalgic than upsetting. I was sitting on tram (the wrong tram) yesterday on my way to Rachel’s, listening to my ipod, when a song came on that reminded me of Margaux. & all of a sudden I realized how much I’d been missing her. She’s one of those people who has always been a really good friend. & we’ve stayed close even when we’ve been at opposite ends of the country or in different countries. Our friendship is one of the few that really hasn’t seemed to waver through the years. & sometimes I forget to be grateful for that. 
It’s times like those that I know it’s time for an email or a skype date or a text. 

Spendyness: Dinner & Shopping &…Dinner

I just got home from my second dinner out in a row this week with Steph. Both meals have been so lovely…both for the company (Steph is swedish & the biggest sweetheart!) & the (cheap) delicious food! I shouldn’t be going out for dinner, but both nights together cost me a grand total of 20 euros…not bad, especially when it means getting to know new people.

Last night, I met her at Guillotière Metro & we went to Mendo. It’s this thai (esque) restaurant where the food is plentyful & the prices pretty low. I got Phat Thai, which they pronounce Fat Thai. It had 3 chili peppers next to it on the menu, but really wasn’t spicy & really wasn’t quite reminiscent of the Phat Thai I’d gotten used to on the streets of BKK. None-the-less it was nice to be out with Steph & her friend, Alex, having a nice little girls dinner. 
Today, I met Jamie at Part Dieu for some shopping. I bought a couple things at Bershka…& then we had lunch at Brioche Dorée. I headed off to work around 4 & got there super early…which turned out alright because I got to start 30 min early.  Then when I got off work, I had a text from Stephanie saying that her & Fatah were going for dinner at a place called l’épicerie on one of my favourite streets-rue mercière. She said it was cheap & I really like her & Fatah so I couldn’t help agreeing to meet up! Alex came along again too. The place itself was so cute. So french & so homey. The menu consisted mostly of tartines. Most were cold, with a couple warm ones thrown in as well. I got a warm one (of course) with pesto, tomatoes & melted cheese. There were lots of others that I’d love to try out & the best part-not at all expensive. The hot ones maxed out at 6e20 & then a desert was 3e80, which worked out to a perfect 10e meal! I had a cherry desert. I forget what it was called, but it was a great end to a great evening. 
I feel a bit guilty about my spendyness these last 2 days, but it’s been so great to get to know Steph better & try some new places in Lyon. So, I’m trying not to feel too bad seeing as Steph’ll be at home in Sweden all next week & I’ll go back to my normal spending habits before the spendyest month of all arrives:  visitors month…

les aventures continuent

I’m almost half way through the month of February & I haven’t yet had to stop buying meat because I’m running low on money! That’ll probably all change next week, but it’s fairly exciting for me for the moment. I guess going a little further out of my way to the discount grocery store is paying off! haha.

Anyways, enough about me being broke. I think it’s fairly common knowledge by now that I make no money here, but hey, I’m in France & my spoken French is better than it’s been in years, so I’m pretty sure it’s worth it. I’m officially a certified Barista! This kind of seems like old news now seeing as most of you know via Facebook, but it’s exciting none-the-less. I got to take off my En Formation badge 2 sundays ago. I still am working on getting faster since I still don’t get to be on the bar a whole lot, but at least I’m not worrying about the test any longer. The only drink I really had to show them I could make was a cappuccino (which they weighed to make sure it wasn’t too heavy). I also had to prepare a French press & then present a coffee, talk about it’s origins, treatment method, the story behind the stamp (yes, there’s a story behind each stamp), talk about how we do a coffee tasting & talk about the coffee itself. & then they went through a series of questions about all things Starbucks. It was like an interview…which is unfortunate for me. As anyone who’s ever interviewed me knows, I’m awful at them & get so nervous I forget very basic things- like taking off my coat inside). All in all, it went pretty well & I passed so it’s done. Yes!!

That weekend, my friend from Republique Starbucks, Tonia, invited me to a surprise party at her house. It was for one of her roommates & a bunch of ppl from Rep came that I haven’t seen in a while so that was nice. I also met this girl from Toronto that I almost punched after she said (for about the 5th time): “I can’t believe you live in Calgary. I mean, Calgary. I could never live there”. Of course, she’d never been to Calgary before…or anywhere west of Ontario, actually & referred to Ontario (namely, Toronto) as the center of Canada. (Oh, I’ve never been past central Canada). I’m sorry…but last time I looked at a map of Canada, Toronto wasn’t in the centre, but I do love how ppl sometimes refer to it as such. Oh, & thank you for judging my hometown when you’ve never even been there before. Personally, I would never live in Toronto, but I can understand why people would & would never insult YOUR home…but that’s cool. Please don’t tell others you’re Canadian…you’re giving us a bad reputation. Yes, I’m a little bit bitter. Honestly, WHO SAYS THAT?

Anyways, I got paid that weekend which meant I bought a ticket to Geneva for the Tuesday.It was an INCREDIBLE city! I absolutely loved it! It’s so beautiful-alps, lake, lovely streets…& it’s very French, which I appreciated. I take for granted being fluent in French until I head somewhere like Italy, where I can’t speak the language. I guess it gives me a look at what most people experience when they backpack around the world. I’ve never before noticed so many languages all in one place. At one moment, I could hear people speaking French, English, Italian, German…at the very least those 4. Les Genevois didn’t JUST speak English, it was ONE of the languages they spoke. I bought swiss chocolate (of course) & the vendor spoke PERFECT unaccented English…& French also, of course.

after almost missing my train

Pont du Mont Blanc

near Cathédrale St Pierre

After almost missing my train in the first place (I actually had to run to Part Dieu to make it & jumped on the train 30s before the doors closed) & getting on the wrong part of the train & having to switch at the first stop, I made it to Geneva. I spent the morning/early afternoon wandering in the old own, up & down the hilly pedestrian streets, admiring the imposing Cathedrale St Pierre & then wandering down to the waterfront to get a closer look at the famous Jet D’eau. It’s pretty cool, I have to say. There were so many sailboats & it had that waterfront smell I love, even though it’s just a lake (albeit a fairly large one). Then I headed up towards the botanic gardens & the Palais des Nations. I decided to walk instead of take the bus. For one, it’s cheaper, but I also feel like I get to know a city better if I walk. It was quite far & took me about an hour, but I wasn’t really rushed since I knew the Palais des Nations wouldn’t be open until 2pm. I also wanted to see the International Red Cross Museum, but sadly it’s closed on Tuesdays. I did a tour of the United Nations though, which was pretty cool. You have to show your passport to be allowed in & then they make you a visitor badge that you have to wear as you’re walking around. The tour guide was very informative…He knew so much about the buildings, to how the UN operates, to its history, etc etc. It was really interesting. The building itself is beautiful, as are the grounds. I got a few pictures that are pretty good, but I think it’s somewhere you have to visit. I mean, even just the hallways are pretty exquisite. After the tour, I wandered back into the old town & had a hot chocolate outside in this pretty little square. (mmm swiss hot chocolate).


Jet D’eau

Musée de la Croix Rousse

United Nations

Beautiful Square

Chocolat chaud

The day had started out a bit cloudy, but as it progressed I was able to see more & more of the mountains. They’re still hard to see in the photos, but in person I did get a little bit of a glimpse! An hour or so before my train, I headed back towards the station, grabbed the best chicken schwarma I’ve had in a while from a little hole in the wall recommended by Lonely Planet, bought some Swiss chocolate & caught my train home to Lyon. Great way to spend a day off, if you ask me!!

swiss chocolate

Thursday night, Kate & I were supposed to go out with her friends, Fatah & Steph. We went to hers & predrank a bit (well, we TRIED, but just couldn’t force down the awful rum she’d bought). We were all dressed up & trying to take a velo’v, but after 3 attempts to buy a card on 3 different machines, we gave up. We were both in heels & didn’t want to walk so we decided to have a drink in a little bar. Fatah & Steph texted us that they were going to the boats so we went & met them, but it was pretty lame so we didn’t stay long. I walked up to Cordeliers with Steph & we took the metro together. She’s from Sweden & is the sweetest girl! It’s her birthday this friday, so that should be fun!

les berges du rhône

Saturday night, I went out with a bunch of Starbucks people. We met in town & walked over to les Berges to go to Q boat. Being the jerks they are sometimes at the boats, they wouldn’t let us in. So then we walked all the way back to l’hotel de ville to go to Ayers. We waited in line to get in & it was so packed you couldn’t move. So we waiting in line to get out & headed up the street to Barberousse. I’d never been before but I’ll definitely be going back. It’s this pirate shooter bar. So we all shared lots of rum based drinks & did a cucaracha, which they light on fire & you drink through a straw. Needless to say, it was not an early night & me & my shift supervisor (who also came out) were more than a little bit tired when we opened the next morning.

Johan, Maureen & Dunya 

Barbarousse Pirate Bar

Dunya & I

Monday night, I met Kate, Rachel, Jamie & a few new people at Place des Terreaux & we headed to the Wallace Pub. It’s an English pub that apparently specializes in different kinds of Whiskey. I decided I’d stick with my demi pèche, but the had Québecois beer AND live music…I dunno how Québecois beer ends up in a Pub, but I’m not gonna argue with it. haha.

sasha’s glasses make the rounds

once a lush, always a lush…

music in a pub

I’d read in a blog about this great patisserie in Bellecour called Pignol, so I met Kate & we decided to check it out before doing some shopping. It was AMAZING. Not only were the pastries delicious, but they were also pretty much art. It took us a good 20 minutes to decide because everything looked so amazing. In the end, I chose a Caramel Meringue & Kate chose some kind of delicious tart. We already have plans to go back with our friend, Rachel.


Artful pastries

mine & Kate’s dessert

Next week is les vacances scolaires so everyone is taking off to different cities. Kate is off to Copenhagen to visit Steph & Rachel is off to Northern France (Including Rennes-so jealous). So I’m pretty sure it’ll pretty low key in Lyon & I’ll be jealously wishing I was going somewhere exciting. I guess I can’t go somewhere new EVERY week, but perhaps I’ll try to take off somewhere despite my lack of money. There is still so much to see in this beautiful region!!

Anyways, you’re probably sick of me yammering on about my life so I’ll let you go & get on with yours! Enjoy reading week for those of you in school! Keep the emails & messages coming. & for those of you who normally talk to me on Facebook chat, it hasn’t been working very well lately, so you should definitely look into skype! I swear you’ll never go back to msn or any crap programs again!

Love love,

Jeudi Noir

Strikes are pretty common in France. They say getting through a semester abroad in France without experiencing the effects of a strike is rare. I lucked out when I did my exchange, but the country made up for it tenfold in the second semester (when I was travelling around Europe) with students going on strike for months. All of my friends still studying in Rennes were SOL when it came to getting any credit in that second semester.

With that in mind, I’m not all that surprised that I’m experiencing the effects of a French strike. I was lucky enough to hear about it on Monday & then was able to get enough information about it to not be surprised that I wouldn’t be able to take the metro home from work tonight. I didn’t actually see any of the protests in the centre, but I did enjoy an overly crowded metro ride to work. I had mentally prepared myself to either walk home or grab a velo’v from the suburbs where I work, but I lucked out & found a ride home with a co-worker.

Gare de Lyon Part Dieu-TGV & TER circulation was severely reduced.

“Public transport was snarled in many cities, scores of flights were cancelled, and schools, banks, hospitals, the post office, law courts and state broadcasters were also expected to be hit by the protest.
The strike aims to highlight fears of growing unemployment, discontent over Mr. Sarkozy’s reluctance to help consumers and resentment towards bankers blamed for the economic slump.” (Globe and Mail)

Today was named Black Thursday (or Jeudi Noir) and is supposed to kick off one of the worst years of striking since 1995. Lucky me, right? I also learned that 70% of the population supports the strike. Even people severely inconvenienced by it admitted to supporting it & were even talking about joining the protest on their lunch breaks. I know that strikes happen often in France, but this still fascinates me…To have so many people support this is something that I can’t imagine ever happening in Canada. I mean, this strike was predicted to paralyse the country (it didn’t, btw) & still the majority supported it.

Some of the things we were expected to face today (aside from the Manif at 10h30) included:
-3/4 metros present on Lines A & B, 1/2 on Line C, normal traffic on Line D. 
-1/2 the tramways & buses on average
-No Tramways on the T1 Line
-60% of metros on Lines T2 & T3, last one departing at 20h
-13 return trips between Lyon & Paris
-No TGV circulation for: Dijon/ Lyon/ Marseille/ Nice & Lyon/ Montpellier/ Perpignan
-National Corail: 2 return trips b/w Lyon & Strasbourg and Lyon & Metz
All in all, it turned out to be not as big of a deal as they’d forcasted. That being said, I wonder if it’s just the beginning…
More info: 

Soldes, Sickness & the halfway mark…

I was going through my inbox the other day, replying to some emails, when I realized that it was almost the end of January. The end of January? How? Where did this month go? It seems to have flown by…

January in France means Les Soldes. For those of you who don’t speak French, this means Sales. Generally, things don’t go on sale all the time in France like they do at home (from my understanding, at least). There are 2 months of sales in the year & one of them is January. The stores are crazy! They’re packed & messy & you can find things for ridiculously cheap. They have listings for 20, 30, 40, 50…70% off. I’m not even kidding. & it’s not just a few stores. It’s every single store out there has at least some of their stuff on sale. My grandparents had sent me some money for Christmas so I did a little bit of shopping: boots, heels, a couple shirts…Usually I would have paid 150 euros just for the 2 pairs of shoes, but they only cost me 65 euros. Not bad. I was pretty excited about these sales, I’m not going to lie. Anyways, they’re coming to an end, which is good news for me seeing as I am totally broke & it’s way too tempting to go shopping when things are so cheap!

I am now working at the Starbucks in Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon. It’s WONDERFUL! I love it! It reminds me of the Starbucks by my house in Calgary…We actually have time to think & chat with customers & joke around. Plus we get to take home “les pertes” (the loses at the end of the night….muffins, cakes, sandwhiches mostly) which means I’ve gotten to try a lot of the Starbucks food, so I can actually give people my opinion on it. Another great thing- we almost always close on time! So I actually get off work when I’m supposed to now usually, as opposed to at least 30 min late. The partners are all really nice too (not that they weren’t at République!). I have my Barista certification test on Friday, so i’ve been spending tons of time reviewing for that. There’s lots to know & it’s all oral & in French…talking about coffee & hygiene & policies in French…It should be interesting! Fingers crossed that I pass!!

The first week in January, I decided to do a day trip to Grenoble despite the freezing cold. It was fun despite having lingering flu symptoms, my feet going a bit numb & a lot of stuff being closed. There is an old cable car that takes you up to the top of the Bastille that overlooks all of Grenoble. Sadly, it was closed for yearly maintenance/upkeep for all of January. I arrived 2 days too late. It was also really foggy so I couldn’t see the alps, but the city was still beautiful. I went to a museum that was all about the region & the history of ski, wandered around the pretty streets enjoying the architecture & had a few cafés to warm up. It was nice to get away from Lyon for the day & see somewhere new. I’ll for sure be going back in the spring (hopefully with Alyssa) so I can ride the cable car & hopefully get a view of the alps!

Passerelle St Laurent

sad news for me

cold, snowy grenoble balades

view of the city

Kate got back halfway through January. We’d had plans to hang out, watch movies, eat popcorn & exchange stories, but I was sick (again). I’ve had no luck when it comes to being sick in January. I got the flu right at the beginning of the month (Happy New Year!) & then had a few days of being well before I came down with a fever which turned into an awful cold. I’m just getting over it now! How annoying. I absolutely hate being sick, especially when I’ve been taking good care of myself! Anyways, I’ve now seen a lot of Kate since she got back. She helped me dye my hair darker, we watched tons of movie (we found a great site that we can watch them on!), made sushi & miso soup (twice), hung out at my favourite café in Lyon, went dancing at Ayer’s Rock (the Aussie bar where all the international kids go) & had a few velo’v adventures. It’s been nice having her back & having someone to hang out with again. I haven’t done anything with Karine in ages. I mean, we have dinner together sometimes (with her family too) & we’re always at the apartment together, but we haven’t gone out in ages.

making rice for sushi

preparing the veggies

the sushi we made 

girls at Ayers Rock

gangsters: special K & a-dawg

I am hoping on getting more hours at Starbucks seeing as I have once again arrived at the end of the month & have enough money for my metro tickets for the week & possibly a few emergency items. Luckily I have tons of pasta to keep me going this week or I dunno what I’d be doing for food. I’m also thinking of applying to this restaurant that’s looking for a server at lunch time during the week. I’d just do it for a month or so to make some extra cash & then quit…or I’m thinking of tutoring or baby-sitting. We’ll see. Taking on another job means working 7 days a week & not getting to do much travelling so I’m trying to avoid it at all costs.

I’ve arrived at the halfway point of my séjour, which is kind of scary for me. When I first arrived, 7 months seemed like an eternity. I felt like I had tons of time to do all the things I wanted to do, but now that I’m halfway, I’m realizing how little time I really do have here. & time seems to be flying by. There are so many day trips, weekend trips, visits coming up in the next few months that it’s going to be super busy! I know I’ll be home in no time so I’ve got to get some travelling in soon, see a lot more of the region as well as some other parts of Europe. So long as I get off work, Kate & I will be making a trip to Strasbourg, Munich & Prague at the beginning of April. I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of this but am trying not to get my hopes up too much in case I don’t get the time off work. My list of day trips is also pretty sufficient. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying a train ticket to Geneva the moment I get paid this weekend.

a foggy day on the saône

Anyways, that’s really about all from me for now. I’ve rambled on long enough now & should probably get back to learning all my coffees backwards & forwards. I’ll definitely be celebrating the end of this exam come the weekend (so long as I pass!! eek!).

Much love,

noël et le nouvel an

Bonne Année, Happy New Year to everyone!! Hope you all had very happy holidays.

As for me, Christmas in Lyon was a little bit lonely to be honest. Karine ended up at her mom’s & told me in the morning that I would probably be able to join her after work. She just had to call her mom to let her know. She warned me that seeing as things were complicated with her family it may not be the best Christmas Eve, but I was pretty excited about spending it with a french family, none-the-less. Unfortunately, I got a message from her after work saying that, in fact, it wouldn’t be possible for me to come. So, instead, I made the trek back up to Croix Rousse on my own.

My parents were driving up to the lake that day & now have internet there, so I stayed up until midnight to talk to them for an hour or so that night. It was nice, seeing as my grandparents were there & everything too. Christmas Day was pretty uneventful. I wandered into the city center (which was deserted…I’ve never seen so few people at Place des Terreaux. I’m so used to there being hoards of people surrounding the statue, having their pictures taken, that it was almost eerie). I wandered around for a little while before having a kebab & then later catching up on my journaling in a little café before heading back to Croix Rousse to chat with my parents.

Once again, it was nice to see them all (oh the wonders of ichat & being able to actually SEE my family & not just talk to them on the phone). We “exchanged presents” & they passed me around so I talked to my whole family. It was nice, but quite different. There was no brunch with the family, or excitedly opening presents around the tree or even anything that came anywhere close to resembling a turkey, but it’s supposed to be about family right? & I did see my family quite a lot over the holdays…

The next morning was my first opening shift at Starbucks so it was early to bed for me. Aside from that, there was nothing too exciting going on here for the next few days. Karine stayed at her mom’s until Sunday night when her & Mamadou finally came home. That night her mom, brother & sister also came for dinner & we made a nice evening of it. Her sister spent a year abroad in Quebec…All she really had to say about it though was that it’s cold & the people are nice.

This week was my last week at Starbucks République. I’m being transferred to Starbucks Villeurbanne in the suburbs. It means going 3 stops on the metro from République & a much calmer store where I’ll hopefully learn a lot more…Maybe even have a few conversations with people instead of just trying to make drinks as fast as humanly possible.

If Christmas here was lonely, then New Years was the complete opposite. I got all dressed up & met Anne to take the métro to her friends, Cédric & Ronan’s apt. I’d met most of her friends before at the Soirée 70s & Florent was down again from the North so it was nice to see them all again and ring in the New Year. I also met an American girl who had just arrived that day (poor thing, I dunno how she was still awake), so that was nice. All in all, it was everything New Years should be. Fun & slightly messy. We celebrated midnight with champagne, bisous all around & many “bonne années”. I’m quite grateful that I didn’t have to work the following day seeing as we didn’t really sleep until 5 or 6am so New Years Day was pretty much a write-off. I hung out with Florent for a bit, talked to my parents on ichat (wow, lots of talking to them over the holidays!) & had a “Quik” dinner. Yup, I know how to start the New Year off right.

I’ve had a few nice surprises from friends…cards & the like, but I think the most exciting news is that Alyssa is coming to visit me in Lyon in March!!! Quite an amazing “Christmas present” if I do say so myself.

Hope you all had a great Christmas & very Happy New Year. I wish you all the best for 2009 as well happiness, health, love…Mes meilleurs voeux pour 2009. Bonne Année, les amis!

New Beginnings

I’ve had the same blog for 7 years & I’m somewhat attached to it. I’m having a hard time converting over to this blog. I dunno what it is…it’s just…not the same. Although, I don’t write in the old one often, it feels comfortable & broken in. & there are so many memories on it. I’m not sure if I’m ready to give it up yet…So until I decide, I’m not sure how often I’ll be updating this one…perhaps every so often, but don’t hold you breath.

I got my pay slip today from Starbucks and as with most things in France, I don’t understand much of it. First of all there is a huge list of shorthanded deductions & taxes & abonnements & god know what else. Plus, I don’t think any of the extra time that I worked was logged…but I dunno how to tell for sure. It’s kind of confusing. I guess if I looked at a Canadian pay stub & wasn’t used to it then it would be the same thing, but I don’t remember a time when this happened. My pay stubs at home have always been so straightforward: EI, Union dues, EPP, OT, Reg, Income Tax…Gross pay, Net pay….yearly. I understand it all. But what the hell is Indemnité de Blanchissage. & how is that my gross pay is 679 euros & my net pay is 582 euros…& how can my bulletin de paye come out for the period of dec 1-dec 31 when I haven’t worked one of my shifts yet…I don’t get this. I think I’ll be having a little chat with Lionel or Elisabeth so they can explain to me all this stuff. Oh ya, & what about the hours that I worked extra…Sometimes I swear Canada is so much straight forward, I swear.  

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