Sunday, January 24, 2010

You had to be there...but these things still make me laugh!

I just want to share a couple anecdotes that keep me giggling…

The other day I was home with Jacques and asked if he was hungry and wanted to eat with me.  I was going to make pasta with vegetables and cooked onions.  We added a little pesto and badaboom we had a great meal to eat.  As I was taking out the plates and getting ready to serve the pasta he said (in English), “Should we take out the FROMAGE”  and he said cheese in an American accent…I totally lost it.  It sounded like FRO-MAIGE.  I have a feeling I will pick that word up and only use it instead of cheese when I speak English or French. 

I know this observation is a bit silly but I can’t help but notice and laugh to myself when I see the leaves at the top of the metro escalator.  It isn’t a very big deal however…when do you ever see LEAVES gathered at the top of the escalator!  You know, in my head, I’m associating escalators with indoor venues like movie theatres or big department stores OR even metro underground…In Lyon they have escalators that take you up to the street, which, don’t get me wrong, is GREAT but at Place Jean Mace there are a bunch of trees…and it being fall already the leaves are falling and gathering at the top of the escalator that brings you to street level.  It is just a humorous concept to me when I see leaves stuck at the top of the escalator constantly being thrust up against the stationary platform as the stairs continue their ascent. 

Now THIS anecdote is probably my favorite so far and has DEFINITELY caused me to laugh out loud to myself…in fact, as I’m writing this right now I’m holding myself back from a nice giggle.  So at my Lycee Marcel Sembat the main floor has a big open lobby with a staircase leading up to the library to the left right when you walk in.  If you keep walking left you will pass by the restrooms which are occasionally locked…but I have the key!  Anyway, naturally during my breaks I need to use the toilette…so I’ll go in and have a choice of three stalls.  And mind you they are not stalls in a room but more like rooms on each side of a square with one wall dedicated to three sinks and a papertowel dispensor.  I go in, do what I have to do, wash my hands, and on my way out (and this has happened, unfortunately, more than once.)  I get all my things ready, fix my hair, grab my bag and swing it upon my shoulder etc… at this point I’ve got a good momentum and speed going.  I grab the doorknob of the door to exit, swing it open and… walk right into the bathroom stall!!!  So one of the bathroom stalls is right next to the exit door and I have gone into the other bathroom stall multiple times because I keep confusing the door.  Thank goodness each time that has happened I was in the bathroom alone and no one saw me! PHEW!

Sophia and Maggie coming to LYON!!!!

So before coming to France I knew that there was the definite possibility of seeing Sophia when we were both in Europe.  She wasn’t sure exactly where she would be or what she would be doing but she KNEW she would be spending the fall into winter months in Europe.  So I was excited to hear that her and her friend Maggie had decided on a departure date and that would be the 15th of October.  Only about three weeks after arriving they planned to come visit me here in Lyon!  I let them know that I would just be finishing my vacation and it was a good time to come and they decided to spend the weekend.  They arrived on a Wednesday and I picked them up from the train station.  They were getting in around 5:30pm but of course I arrived at the train station about 20 minutes early because I was so excited!  I spotted them coming down the stairs with their gigantic backpacks.  It was a wonderful reunion and I hugged them both so tight!  They came at the perfect time.  I was missing home a little bit and I knew it would be a familiar face.  So we took the metro back to my apartment where they were able to set down their big bags and relax for a couple minutes.  I had informed them on our trip home that we would be heading to a bar to watch the big Lyon vs. Liverpool match at a bar with some friends.  They were up for anything!  We made dinner, caught up about all different sorts of things, they were able to meet my flat mates, and then we headed out to the bar.  I must make a side note and say that they had just come from volunteering with an artist in the south of France who lived in the Languedoc.  They basically exchanged manual labor for food and housing.  They said it was the most incredible experience an amazing way to start out their journey through Europe.  So, we get to the bar and meet my friends Patrick and Rachel.  We had a great time and the match was a tie (better than a loss!).  We walked around a bit after the game then headed home because I had a full day of teaching the next day!  I gave the girls a map and a post-it with some “must see” places.  I left the house around 7:30am and arrived home around 6pm.  The girls had bought cheese and bread and we sat down and caught up about each other’s days.  It was just lovely!
Thursday night I took them to two key pubs in Vieux Lyon.  They were able to experience some of the English speaking spots.  We went to the Smoking Dog (which as mentioned before has a pub quiz every Tuesday), then we went to The Wallace (which as mentioned before has pub quiz everything Thursday but we decided to head over after the quiz and miss the crowd in order to get a seat).  The bars weren’t packed and we were able to sit down together and catch up on a bunch of different things. 
Then on Friday we decided to go to the ZOO!  We took the metro up to Le Parc de la Tete D’or and walked around quite a bit.  They had explored a lot of Lyon the day before when I was at work so we took it nice and easy on Friday.  Then Friday night we were invited to go to a Quebequois party near Place Bellecour.  We were told it would be quite a mélange of cultures!  Sophia, Maggie, Marissa and Myself all went to dinner at an Indian Restaurant then headed over to this party.  We had a great time and Soph and Maggie were able to meet a bunch more assistants as well as other people from Spain, Italy, Canada, Mexico…etc.  It was a great time.  After this party we went to a club together, danced to some Michael Jackson music and walked home.  I have to say I think that was one of my best nights in Lyon!
Saturday we woke up just in time to slip on some shoes and a jacket over our pajamas and cross the street to the market to get some eggs for breakfast.  We cooked scrambled eggs and homefries YUM!  In the afternoon we met up with some other assistants and walked around vieux lyon…we were all pretty tired from the night before.  We took Soph and Maggie to our favorite crepe place and decided to counter our hangovers with a beer at a nearby bar.  It worked for most of us.  We accumulated more people by this time and ended up spending the whole afternoon and night out.  We headed up the hill to our friend Ryan’s house (same Ryan who I went to Cinque Terre with)…and we had a lovely night chez lui. 
I think one of the highlights of Sophia and Maggie’s visit (and there were many) was the encounters between Sophia and my friend Ana from spain.  She does not speak English and Sophia does not speak much French yet they someone became buddy-buddy within about 5 mintues of meeting each other.  It was the funniest thing…they somehow found a way to communicate with each other!  It was fascinating and humorous!  The girls I think had a great time and they were such good guests.  They were outgoing and so excited to have the opportunity to discover a new city in Europe. 
When Sunday rolled around I took the girls to the train station, helped them buy their ticket and use their eurail pass…we said good bye and they were off to Nice!

French Cheesecake DOESN’T exactly Taste The Same at Bieh

What is this Bieh, you ask?  Well it is “Best I ever had!” of course.  It is an American style restaurant that has a sort of 1950’s feel with modern picture posters of Time Square and other population photographs.  I went there with Jacques and six of his girls friends.  They were all super nice and knew that I was American.  We sat down to order and Jacques kept asking what the good choice would be.  They had bagels on the menu even.  A ‘Manhattan,’ A ‘Brooklyn,’ and A ‘CHELSEA!!!’  How cool is that.  It was something like chicken cream cheese zucchini etc.  We all ate burgers.  The girls were extremely nice and were very open.  We finished up our burgers and some of the people we were with were going to order dessert… Jacques turned to me and asked my advice.  I saw cheesecake on the menu and told him that was pretty American, little did I know it wouldn’t taste much like American cheesecake at all.
It was more of a flan type looking slice of cake with a brown topping (perhaps brown sugar) on top.  I told Jacques it would be hard to find a true cheesecake because its hard to find cream cheese here.  We left dinner and headed to the threatre to see New Moon the second Twilight movie.  YES, it came out in France TWO days before it comes our in new york!

Smoking quiz anyone?

Pub quiz anyone?  Or for those confused by that term, trivia?  Yes indeed there is trivia here in Lyon…and not just at one bar!  It is played both in English and in French and different bars have it on different days.  So this is how it works, you MUST arrive at least an hour early in order to find seats because the bar becomes absolutely PACKED with people.  In fact the other day we went to meet up with some people and could hard get through rowding English singing and jumping futbol fans.  It turns out they were pre-partying for the Liverpool vs Lyon futbal match taking place the following day.  It was absolutely crazy.  Well anyway, there are three parts to the game.  The first part includeds a sheet of paper with a ton of images on it.  You must identify who they are.  Then there is a section of about 20 questions that two announcers pose to the audience.   Why two announcers?  Because one says the question in English and they other says it in FRENCH! Then the third part of the quiz is the music portion where you must identify title an artist.  At the end of the night you find out who wins and it doesn’t just stop there.  In order to earn your money one of the team mates MUST dance on the bar!  Good fun but sometimes there are just too many people!

BOO! Halloween in Lyon...spooky?

As I’m sure I have mentioned before there is just never a dull moment here in Lyon!  So upon returning from my vacation in Cinque Terre I was faced with the challenge of finding a Halloween costume in France.  There were a couple different parties going on and my friends and I had our choice of destinations but we decided it would be important to dress up at least a little bit.  So as I am trying to come up with ideas I asked Jacques was he was going to be…and in his ever-so-energetic way he said I KNOW A STORE LETS GO!  It turns out we weren’t the only ones with this idea because there wasw a line out the door of the store.  In fact there was a bouncer letting people in.  We had met Marissa on our trip up there.  We walked around the store which had everything from Pirates to gross goblins.  Unfortunately they were out of fake blood which limited out gore-factor.  So Marissa bought a scar that you glue onto your face or neck, I bought a headband with devil horns, and Jacques bought red devil horns that you glue onto your forehead (he didn’t end up dressing up).  We got back to my apartment and got our costumes ready.  I wore black pants, a red and white striped shirt, and black blazer in addition to heavy back make-up and my horns.  We started the night at our friend Maty’s house.  We had fun music playing and the weather was nice enough to pull some tables and chairs onto her balcony.  I mentioned that my Italian friends were having a party at their flat if we wanted to go.  This is the same flat where I had that potluck dinner…you know, the biggest flat I’ve ever seen in Lyon!  So they were all excited to go and when we arrived, it turns out that Valentine and Valentine were both devils too!  I hadn’t seen them for quite a while so it was really wonderful to see all of them.  It was quite an international party -  people from France, Italy, India, Mexico, Japan, America, Canada…etc.  So we stayed there until about one in the morning when we decided to go to a club.  We spent the rest of the night dancing and singing.  It was great fun.  Returned home very late in the evening…or should I saw early in the morning…  All in all it was a different but fun Halloween.

Cinque Terre

What an adventure!  Ryan and I set out for Cinque Terre Monday, October 26th.  Our train was at 8:40am so we made an agreement we would both arrive at the station at 8am.  I arrive, backpack packed and ready to go when I get a text message that read… gonna be late.  Then about 15 minutes later one that said…I don’t think I’m going to make it…then another 15 minutes later saying GET ON THE TRAIN I WON’T MAKE IT!  I ran up to the platform but the train doors were already locked!  I mean, was I really going to head out on this trip by myself?  I’m glad those doors were locked cause I don’t know how else Ryan and I would have met up with each other!  When he finally arrived at the station we had a good laugh and decided to go to the office and exchange our tickets.  I was lucky enough to travel with someone who was as free flowing as myself so without stress or panic we began our adventure…  It turns out the missing of this train created a chain reaction of missed trains because we had a connection in Chambery and another in Turino.  We exchanged our tickets successfully but decided to stay a night in Chambery and had to Torino the next day, or else we would have just stayed in Lyon another night.  We caught the next train which was about an hour later and headed to a new city in France.  Like Grenoble, Chambery is surrounded by mountains.  It was a charming place.  Ryan and I went straight from the train station to the tourist office where we asked about cheap hotels and what is good to see in Chambery if we only have one day to see it.  They gave us a ton of information and we started searching for a hotel.  We found The Art Hotel which was very close to the train station and had a room for not too much money.  We dropped out bags off and decided to begin out adventure.  In Chambery there is a Medieval part of town.  In many cities in France, I’m sure like in other countries, there is usually and ‘old town’ well, Chambery has such an old part of town its called La Ville Ancienne! (The Ancient City).  We walked around a bunch took loads of pictures had a coffee, then decided to grab lunch to go and head to a well known lake about a 15-20 minute bus ride away.  It turned out to be beautiful weather and we ate our sandwiches by the water.  The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring and eventually we made it back to the hotel and went to be early.  When we arrived in Torino we had to buy our tickets to catch another train to Levanto where we would then hop on another train and head to the towns of Cinque Terre.  Not a very direct trip, I must say but by reading this I hope you will understand that it was completely worth it.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More to come...

There is much more to come, so for those of you reading please stay tuned and know how appreciative I am that you have taken the time to keep up with my adventures over here.

Wine Tasting

After our adventurous day of getting the Petit Paume successfully we were headed to the Salon du Vin for an afternoon of wine tasting.  Two friends of mine, other English assistants, had been staying with a teacher from their school who had give them free tickets.  We walked in, handed in our tickets, were given a glass, and headed into this big room lined with wine vendors.  They were from all over france selling every different type of wine…and champagne of course.  There was a man with a dried fruit display, people selling cheese, salami, sausage, chocolate…etc.  It was incredible.  We tasted all different types of wine and tried to strike up a conversation with each person because we felt bad that we weren’t going to buy any of the bottles (although there were some pretty good deals).  Oh, did I mention there was Froie Gras too?  Delish!