Friday, June 17, 2011

The views out my window have been pretty incredible lately. Colorful, pretty, late sunsets. The nights are short--the sun goes down around 10:30 but it's still pretty light until 11pm. And it's back up again before 6. I recently worked an all-night cleaning shift at the restaurant and it was weird to see how short the night really is. It started getting light around 5, seemed so weird to see the sun go down and back up all in a span of a shift.

So, to continue the last post, I had a pretty good spring. May went by so fast. I was busy studying, working, having birthday celebrations. I've made some friends this year, mostly from my job(s), and it was fun to go out with people and bring in my 26th year with class. I had some people to my apartment for pizza & drinks, then we went out to join up more people at some bars in the neighborhood. Good times but sadly (or maybe a good thing..), no photos. Having no lens for the last few months has meant a) not taking pictures b) using crappy camera phone 3) mooching other people's photos/stealing their camera [see below].

May and June are notorious for public holidays, which equals long weekends. The French like to faire le pont, or "make the bridge" to the weekend. So if you have a lucky year where a public holiday falls on a the perfect day--Thursday--most everyone will take off Friday because really, who's going to work in between two days off? No one! This year and last year were unlucky because two of the public holidays fell on the weekend, which is just unfair. Have a public holiday on a day we're already off? Mean. One, however, happened on the perfect day this year. Ascension was on a Thursday in early June, and as best I can gather, it's when Jesus took an elevator to heaven to join his pops. The French aren't hugely religious but by golly, they will take their jours fériés where they can get them.

My friend and I took this chance to head to Giverny, a small French village in the bottom of Normandy. It's about an hour from Paris by train, the place of the famous waterlily paintings by Claude Monet.

I know I said it before, when I went to Lille, but I am always amazed how much else is outside of Paris. I felt like I could have been in Provence, yet we were only a short trainride from the bustling, crowded capital. It was hot, sticky weather, and there were no clouds in the sky. Just a clear blue sky, with a beating sun that left its mark on my shoulders by the end of the day. But it was picturesque--no wonder Monet spent so much time there. Rolling hills, flowers in bloom, quaint houses and the familiar Seine flowing by.

Giverny--Claude Monet's house/studio
Caro and I had a good lunch a French restaurant and enjoyed walking around, despite the masses of tourists. Ascension weekend was all over Europe, so there were long lines everywhere we went. Annoying, but it was to be expected. At least there was a nice breeze going.

The problem that we ran into, however, is that we ran out of cash after spending almost exactly the amount required for the busride home 5 minutes before, in the gift shop. So here we are in this little town, which is 6km (almost 4 miles) from where the train picks up, and we have no money. And oh yeah, there's no ATM. We had to walk the whole way back after an already long and hot day in the sun, waiting in lines and looking at flowers. Not so lucky, but I guess we saved the 4€ and got some exercise. We missed our train but instead of getting mad, we decided to get a drink and wait for the next one an hour later. Turned out okay after all!

On the walk to the main town--notice the awesome tan

Since then, I've just been working and enjoying my time off. Back to studying German for a little bit. I kind of switch off and on with it, but had to abandon it in February to study for the translation test. I would love to live in Deutschland for an extended amount of time in the next few years. Maybe after I've had enough of France, who knows. The next best thing is visiting, and I'll be doing exactly that the first week of July. I'll be in Berlin for a few days, then to Bamberg, then to Vienna. Friends in each place, and the last one, I'm shooting the candid wedding pictures for a friend that is marrying an Austrian guy. I've never been to Vienna, and I've heard it's beautiful, so I'm pretty pumped to check it out. I've got my new lens, so I need to get some practice in before I head over to the land of Mozart. I'll try to keep my flickr page updated with some shots around Paris.

In the meantime, more pictures from my recent adventures.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring Catch Up

Désolée, sorry, lo siento for the delay in posting. I did not realize it had been so long since I posted! I have much to recount, many photos to share.


It doesn't help that the weather has recently felt like a throwback to April. Coats and umbrellas haven't been far from hand recently. Guess it's payback, because April was unusually warm and mostly rain-free. So much that parts of France experienced droughts. It just hurts more when it's summer (almost) and I have to dress in layers!

I'll start out by saying that I sadly did not get accepted into the translation school that I spent this spring studying for. I had my reservations the weeks leading into it after hearing (again) from people that it was quite difficult and very competitive..but I wasn't about to just ditch it all together. I studied s'more, took some deep breaths, told myself it'd make me stronger or something like that. There were an insane amount of people there, I'd say at least 400-500. Although I am notorious for badly estimating large groups of people..let's just say it was an entire auditorium that had two levels. Totally filled. The list came out the next week and I was not on it, but I definitely wasn't the only one. Ah, well. C'est la vie.

I had a wtf-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life day, but it was short-lived since I felt out some Plan B's in the weeks prior. I will be applying to a few other translation programs this fall at three universities. France has two sessions to apply to university--one now, in late May/early June, and one in mid-September. I would have liked to just get it over with and apply now, but nothing is ever that easy in La France! I have to take an official French test to prove my level. That's right, after living here for 3something years I have yet to prove I indeed speak French fluently. Quelle galère..(what a pain)

And so that is what I will be doing this summer, among other things. Paying 90€ for someone to write down on a piece of paper that I have a level worthy of a French/English translator-to-be. (Last year, I got lucky as my university had their own, free French test. Sadly they did not provide any kind of written proof that I took it. OF COURSE!)

Although September will be a little stressful (I could easily find out I'm accepted the week before classes begin), at least I have the summer to study a bit and relax. For the first time since last fall, I read a book that wasn't Communications/Translation related. It was glorious.

In between studying, sleeping, teaching English, working at a restaurant and watching my kids, I did have a pretty good spring. Brittany came up to visit at the end of April and all I can say is that we had an epic weekend. The weather was beautiful, café and pub terraces were filled with people, friends joined up, laughter was was fun. We went vintaging, drank some wine and/or coffee in between, stopped by the bookstores since, well, we always do. The next day we went to Lille, a little town an hour north of Paris by TGV. I'd been told it was very up-and-coming and cute. Carolina came along and it was a really great day. Lille is highly recommended to anyone visiting France! I wish I had money, I'd invest some there! Lots of old houses being renovated, cute cobblestone streets, interesting French/Flemish architecture, a huge plaza, tons of shops, two train stations.. it's only going to improve in the coming years. If I wasn't so attached to Paris, I'd really consider living up there. I couldn't believe how much cheaper it was than Paris! For the rent of a small 15-20m2 studio here, you could have your own 70m2 apartment there..







It was good to be reminded that Paris is not synonymous with France. I think a lot of people, myself included, fall into this trap. I love Paris and will always have a strong emotional bond with it, but there are so many other little towns and cities that deserve some lovin'!

Alright there is more to say..I had a birthday in there, you know! But lunch with a friend awaits!

I finally got a new lens for my camera--perfect for long summer days and (hopefully soon) warm weather.

A plus!