Autumn’s Adventures


Notre Dame
January 18, 2010, 1:33 pm
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While I was traveling around Patagonia with Dave we met two french people surfing the same couch as us.  We ended up traveling with them for about a week after that and had a pretty good time.  I told one of the frenchies that I would be in Europe in January so we exchanged info and here I am, meeting up with him today to go check out Notre Dame.

The cathedral was huge and impressive though I’m not a giant fan of church touring in general.  To me they all look more or less the same, and they all have creepy statues of jesus dying in them.  Any they are dark and smelly and a little bit scary.  I do appreciate the stained glass windows though. They are probably the only things I enjoy seeing when I’m inside. While it was cool to say I was there, I didn’t stay for very long and I didn’t go up on the roof (8 euros to go up I was unwilling to shell out).

My french friend, Sebastian, and I continued walking around the island while catching up.  We ended up walking for a good 4 hours around the rest of the city, seeing various landmarks and famous streets.  By the end of it my feet were tired so he bought us some pain au chocolate and we went to his favorite cafe/bar in the city.  It’s a tiny little corner bar always full with loud, drunk french men.  We drank a coffee there and eavesdropped on the table next to us full of belligerent french guys on their lunch break talking about politics and sports.  The owner of the bar was the loudest and drunkest of them all, tipping back bottles of red wine with his hefty potato and meat stew lunch.   He was very opinionated and very funny, even though I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Just watching his body language and listening to him was entertaining.  He even has a framed photo of himself holding a kings cane calling himself the king of the bar.

When I got back to the apartment, Nathalie and I decided to make a nice salad for dinner to celebrate our first night in her new place.



Versailles and Trannies
January 16, 2010, 3:23 pm
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Nathalie woke up early to meet with a realtor about an apartment while I slept in and enjoyed the double bed that I had all to myself.  When I woke up I took a shower in the crazy multiple jet shower.  I turned on all of the knobs and was greeted by a bajillion different tiny streams poking at me like little needles.  I quickly realized this was not going to be a harmonious relationship so I shut off the tiny jets and took a normal shower where the water comes from above.  The water pressure was intense and so amazing that it made me forget about the little prickers attacking me just seconds ago.

When Nathalie came back to the apartment she brought me a coffee eclair to try.  YUM.  After our late breakfast we decided to take a trip to the palace of Versailles.  French citizens under the age of 26 are able to get into almost every tourist attraction for free, minus the Eiffel tower.  I had to pay about 16 dollars to get in.

Audio guides were included with the ticket so I was able to listen to the history of each room, it’s purpose and quirky facts about random objects.  The coolest things about the palace were the ceilings painted with murals and gold statues in almost every room.  One huge room had the biggest fire place I had ever seen.  So cool.  I have seen some pretty amazing things on the road but I have to admit that the architecture and the history of France is so impressive.  It really tucks the US as a youthful nation into it’s cradle…

That night we drove to Camille’s mom’s house to make dinner and drink some wine before going out in Paris.  Camille was taking us to a really popular disco in Paris so we had to make sure we were dressed properly, wearing a suit jacket and a dress.  We waited outside in the cue for about 20 minutes before Camille managed to get us in somehow.  The music was house music and some pop hits from the US.  We bought one drink each and it cost me 17 euros including tip.  It was apple juice and vodka in a tiny cup that I finished in about 5 minutes.  The club was packed. We started dancing and out of the corner of my eye I saw this huge monster coming towards us.  As it got closer I realized it was a tranny-version of Lady Gaga wearing platform shoes and a string that wrapped around his body and up his butt crack, forming one giant complicated thong.  I looked around some more and saw another tranny, more dainty but still towering over the crowd in his tall shoes.  I was so into the trannies. Oh what a night!



My first night in Paris
January 15, 2010, 2:42 pm
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We left Damelevieres in a frenzy with bags and arms flapping while we made sure we weren’t forgetting anything as we said our goodbyes.  I spotted this funny box on my way out the door and had to snap a photo of it.  As we drove out of their little town I spotted a truck with the words “Love France” printed on the side. I couldn’t help but think to myself “yes, that is exactly how I feel right now, truck. Thank you spelling it out for me.”

When we arrived to Paris we met up with Nathalie’s good friend Camille at her boyfriend’s apartment.  We were going to stay in that apartment for the next few days while Nathalie found her own apartment.  Camille wasn’t staying with us, she was just giving us the keys since she was staying at her mom’s while her boyfriend was out of town working.  When I walked into this apartment all I could think of was one word: Ikea.  It was a total mod-bachelor pad equipped with a giant flat screen TV with surround sound, all white furniture and a red bathroom containing a shower with those multiple jets that shoot out at you.  Not to mention the cool view of other Paris apartment buildings from the giant floor to ceiling windows.  I dug it and couldn’t believe I was staying in such a nice place for my first few days in Paris.  I was definitely excited to try that shower out and see what all the fuss was about.  The gods are shining down on me for sure.

When Camille left us to get settled in we decided to take a drive around to see the major monuments at night.  It was really cool to see everything lit up and to be in the crazy night traffic around the arc of triomphe.  My head was out the window like an excited dog, numbed by the zero degree wind but too happy to care.  I saw lovers walking on the sidewalk, stopping to take photos together in front of the eiffel tower.  This city really is bubbling with romance.

We drove to the Montmartre district and checked out the Moulin Rouge all lit up.  We were hungry so we parked and decided to eat at the Flunch.  I was intrigued by the name alone but once inside I knew that I made a grave mistake.  It was like the college cafeteria all over again. I asked Nathalie if Flunch stood for Fast Lunch which she replied “Yeah, that would make sense.”

Tired from the long drive we settled on the couch and watched a marathon of Season 1: My Name is Earl.  Nathalie loves their accent so she always asks me to talk like them so we can practice talking like Earl together.  I’m now naturally talking like white trash with a southern twang thanks to her.



A snail a day will keep your friends at bay
January 14, 2010, 4:05 am
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Today was my last full day in Damelevieres and though was sad to leave I was also excited for the last dinner — but we’ll get to that later.  To start off the day, Nath, Baptiste and I went to Nancy to coat shop for Bapt and then they took me to the Fresh Market to show me where their dad buys all of the food that he makes.  It was so amazing to be there and to see the hundreds of different cheeses in giant blocks.  The exotic fish and the live crabs and other shelled fancies.  The fruit was beautiful and expensive but not as expensive as the truffle mushroom, which costs almost $3,000 USD per kilo and look like baby elephant turds.  Apparently it is very hard to find and people use pigs to sniff it out and dig it out from under trees.  Maybe someday I will try it…

Now onto the dinner!  Both sides of the grandparents came to the dinner so the table was full and excited for this awesome meal.  To start, we had smoked mackerel with lemon followed by foie gras and smoked duck over a bed of spinach and pine nuts.  For the main course it was what I had been waiting for — escargot!  They were in porcelain “shells” to retain heat but normally they are served in their own shells.  The sauce was a parsley and butter sauce which you dipped bread into after you ate the escargot.  I liked it, loved it, wanted more of it. So I did. I ate about a dozen.  For the first dessert, it was none other than, you guessed it – cheese!  After that was the real dessert of gauffre, or powdered waffles.  I brought maple syrup from NY so the family tried some of the waffles with that. Yummy!

To end the night, Nath, Bapt and I played a french game called Yam.  I actually learned how to play this came in Jujuy but I forget what they called it.  Needless to say, I lost at Yam too…



A snail a day will keep your friends at bay
January 14, 2010, 4:05 am
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Today was my last full day in Damelevieres and though was sad to leave I was also excited for the last dinner — but we’ll get to that later.  To start off the day, Nath, Baptiste and I went to Nancy to coat shop for Bapt and then they took me to the Fresh Market to show me where their dad buys all of the food that he makes.  It was so amazing to be there and to see the hundreds of different cheeses in giant blocks.  The exotic fish and the live crabs and other shelled fancies.  The fruit was beautiful and expensive but not as expensive as the truffle mushroom, which costs almost $3,000 USD per kilo and look like baby elephant turds.  Apparently it is very hard to find and people use pigs to sniff it out and dig it out from under trees.  Maybe someday I will try it…

Now onto the dinner!  Both sides of the grandparents came to the dinner so the table was full and excited for this awesome meal.  To start, we had smoked mackerel with lemon followed by foie gras and smoked duck over a bed of spinach and pine nuts.  For the main course it was what I had been waiting for — escargot!  They were in porcelain “shells” to retain heat but normally they are served in their own shells.  The sauce was a parsley and butter sauce which you dipped bread into after you ate the escargot.  I liked it, loved it, wanted more of it. So I did. I ate about a dozen.  For the first dessert, it was none other than, you guessed it – cheese!  After that was the real dessert of gauffre, or powdered waffles.  I brought maple syrup from NY so the family tried some of the waffles with that. Yummy!

To end the night, Nath, Bapt and I played a french game called Yam.  I actually learned how to play this came in Jujuy but I forget what they called it.  Needless to say, I lost at Yam too…



Autistic cat and a Magic Bunny
January 14, 2010, 3:32 am
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This afternoon was another culinary experience at Nath’s grandparent’s house.  It started out with trying Patis, a famous french liquor made from anis.  I knew I probably wouldn’t like it because I am no fan of the flavor of anis but I tried it anyway.  It was mixed with some other juice or something but it was still too strong of a flavor for me so I took one sip and thanked them for letting me try it.  Then her grandma poured me some porte wine from Portugal but even that was too sweet for me.

For lunch we had pote lorraine which was different sausages and pork steaks slow cooked until the meat is so tender it almost melts in your mouth.  There was also a beet salad that was so good that I ate it up before I remembered to take a photo.  The beets came from her grandmother’s garden in the back yard. For dessert we had mirabelle and her grandfather had me try mirabelle liquor that he made in 1965.  Usually you pour the liquor over the mirabelle fruits and eat it like that but he had me take a cube of sugar, dip it in the liquor, put it in my mouth and chew.  He said it would take the edge off but it was still the strongest and most intense mix of burning in my mouth.  It took me a few minutes to recover after that one.  Nath told me her other grandpa used to gargle the mirabelle liquor every morning, to clean his throat and keep him from getting sick.

After lunch we went to Nath’s other grandma’s house to chat with her for a hot second.  She served us chocolates in the shape and color of mini golf balls while I listened to them catch up in French.  She had two tiny fridges covered in magnets from the US.  I got a kick out of that.  Since I couldn’t speak to her in English, I pointed to each magnet that I’ve been to and tried to explain with my hands that I’d visited or lived there.  She either thought I was a crazy person, banging at my chest to indicate “ME HERE” or she understood. I’ll never know.

We were meeting up with Mimi and her boyfriend for dinner tonight so we decided to make brownies to bring with us.  We bought all of the ingredients versus buying a box and throwing in some eggs.  I was worried that they wouldn’t turn out because I was converting the measurements from cups to grams and brownies are so finicky.  An hour later, we pulled them out of the oven and they were PERFECT.  I’ve never made perfect brownies before.  These had a flaky top layer and were super moist in the center.  I patted myself on the back for that one.

When we arrived to Mimi’s, we were greeted by an autistic cat that wouldn’t let us go up the stairs.  It was a cute cat but something scared me about it being autistic as I’ve never known a cat to have such a diagnosis.  It even had it’s own mini cat couch.  But that doesn’t top what I saw when I walked into the kitchen.  I look down and see a giant white bunny at my feet, hopping around like it’s the owner of the house.  This thing was so domesticated it was insane.  It came to snuggle with me a few times and proceeded to get white hairs all over my new black sweater.  We played poker after dinner and I lost.  First bowling, then this? I was on a losing streak…



Raw Steak, Bone Marrow and Bowling
January 13, 2010, 3:08 am
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Nathalie had some errands to run today so I accompanied her to Nancy.  She brought me to this bakery that makes her favorite pain au chocolat and then we checked out a few stores and Place Stanislas, the famous and most beautiful plaza in France according to Nath and her family.  It was hard to photograph it, being it was so big and all, but it was pretty and gold and stuff.

For dinner we went to this restaurant chain called Hippopotamus which is a steak house.  A bunch of Nathalie’s cousins and their girlfriends/boyfriends also joined us for this dinner.  Nath told me that I had to try bone marrow so I did (and I liked it).  I also ordered a rare steak and it was a perfect blueish-red hue.  What a hunka meat I tell ya. YUM.

After dinner a handful of us went bowling around the corner.  I’ve internationally bowled only one other time in Buenos Aires.  I always have fun bowling but I never win.  In fact, I always come in last.  I don’t really care though because I’m only in it for the neon lights and the slippery shoes.  And it reminds me of the Big Lebowski.