Sunday, March 29, 2009

I miss wearing t-shirts...

Location: At ze kitchen table
Currently Listening: Eric Pridz - Pjano
Weather: Decent. A little cold but I managed to shop the Bastille fresh market in less than pants. At least I didn't get pooped on by pidgeon. .aka poor Laura.

One thing I didn't manage to bring is a single t-shirt to Paris! What was I thinking?! You can't go out in public in t-shirts, but seriously I end up wearing crazy things in the comfort of my apartment because I didn't bring any "loungewear." Hahah it's kinda like when you see all the guys at school wearing their nice button ups and slacks and you know it must be laundry day.

Well, I FINALLY bought my ticket to Greece to meet up Rachel this May. For the longest time I only had a ticket leaving Greece to get back to Paris in time to catch my flight back to the states. (YAY can't wait to be home!) You aren't going to believe what crazy adventure my friend Luiza and I have in store for ourselves to get to Athens cheaply.

So first we have to bus out to some little town outside of Paris called Beauvais and catch a Ryan Air flight to Venice. We'll stay the night and a day there and check out the city, and then wake up super early the next day to get to the port to catch a Minoan Line ferry cruise called Ikarus Palace to the Greek island Corfu. Guess how long's the cruise. TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Haha and we bought deck accommodation tickets, which basically means we stay awake all night and roam the public lounges with our bags on our backs. We found out my friend from Milan, Alan, who apparently did this once, that if we run on the cruise in front of the herd of deck ticket holders we can claim some space behind a staircase where the crew members won't catch us sleeping. We didn't realize that even in May it will still be cold out at sea so it's not exactly fun being up on the deck at night. Woops, missed that memo. I hope they sell espresso on that boat....... Well after one crazy night on that cruise we make it to Corfu where we'll spend a few days soakin' up the sun on the island. Then we'll have to take a night ferry to this Greek port city Patras and then take the subway to some other city where we can catch a train to Athens. Oh God, got to love budget travel. :) I think the one problem with budget travel is that it's usually a catastrophe. Then I feel like the world owes me something, and I end up spending money to make up for it. Haha. Okay well, hopefully I can stay sane all the way to Athens on my Skippy Jar compliments of Karina who recently visited and brought me peanut butter.

Went to a MONOCHROME party the other night with my neighbors Alan, Henning and Matthias. The costumes were pretty crazy. Everyone had to wear one color only and they took it seriously. One guy wore all foil. I think he was supposed to be the Tin Man. Another guy wore orange pants, shirt, and turban...and held a giant carrot the entire night. But nothing was as ridiculous as what my neighbors and Henning's girlfriend were wearing. They went in this ABBA meets Teletubby yellow attire equipped with a yellow ruffly blouse and a tighter European version of gaucho pants. Apparently Henning had convinced some wholesale (they only sell to retailers by the hundreds)shop to give them 4 samples to show to a "crowd of hundred people" to "confirm" the purchase. Hahaha. Talk about awesome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"We are always running for the thrill of it, thrill of it" - Empire of the Sun

Location: My sofa that caves in the middle
Currently Listening: Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream
Weather: A little drizzle, a little shine

Spent the "better" of the morning waiting at the SNCF office only to be disappointed by the lack of good deals to South France...maybe I won't end up there for my birthday. I really wanted to see Nice... Maybe I will go there in May. I always thought traveling alone would be fun, but now I just feel like without someone else there, what's the point? But then the other part of me thinks why should you need someone else to enjoy life. Oh I don't know. I think I just wanted to go to the beach to drown in the sun and try to pretend I don't very much need to be home taking care of matters with friends and family...and of course spending my 21st with my best friends. Well, I'm in Paris for my birthday end of story.

What's it like in Paris? It's normal. I think what I've learned from being here is that life is the same wherever you live. It still has its ups and you can't just run off to the other side of the world and expect life to suddenly be more exciting. I always wanted to start my life in Europe, but I think I could be happy anywhere if I just decide to live life that way.

That's not say that Paris isn't completely different and bizarre in it's own way from Austin. So just for kicks.... You know you're in Paris when...
-Wine is as cheap as bottled water
-Local pizzerias are the hot spot for anyone that sports a yamaka or earlocks
-Children are always accompanied by their au pair
-Women wear billowy pants like Aladdin
-Most guys have better hair days than your very best
-Cute dogs sit on window sills of small shops
-The constant techno gets you more jittery than any cup of espresso
-Cafe Noisette ("hazelnut coffee") is not a cup of hazelnut coffee, but rather espresso served with a touch of cream to give the color of hazelnut
-The business schools hire professional bouncers for their parties
-Chestnuts are not something in your plate of Buddha Delight, but are mashed into a creamy sweet paste for crepes [Really strange texture... don't really recommend it]
-Tomato in a sandwich is not slices, but rather pasta sauce

Oh Paris, so silly, but I still love you.

By the way, I started this 365 days of pictures ordeal on Flickr so check it out:

<-- A little preview

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Ah-what what what what what did you think would happen next?" - LCD Soundsystem

Location: Soaking up the window light from my bed, now equipped with one killer pillow
Weather: Warmer than Austin, Texas, what?!
Currently Listening: Time to Get Away by LCD Soundsystem

Good Lord getting to Dublin on Wednesday was quite the journey. Flying Ryan Air was absolutely miserable. Had to pay 10 euros for being American (non EU passport carriers must pay for check-in) and my carry-on was so heavy that I literally wore 3 pants, 2 shirts, 3 sweaters and my coat, hat, and scarf. Add to that, my make-up in my boots, laptop charger, deodorant, phone, key, and wallet in my pockets. Oh and I wore my SLR around my neck. Yes, I was ready to pass out from hyperthermia. Naturally I made no hesitation in coughing up 3 euros for the bottled water on the flight. On the plane to further irritate me, an earring Rachel had given me for Christmas fell out of my wallet. I never found it, but I did manage to break the other that I was holding up to show the girl in the seat next to me when I tried to return it to my wallet. Well a flight and bus later, I was thrilled to see that gorgeous of a blonde Brady and pretty much collapsed in bed upon arrival to her dorm.

Exploring Dublin started the next morning. After hanging out with Oscar Wilde atop "Pride Rock" in Merrion Square, I walked Brady to class (I should have carried her books and brought her coffee) at Trinity, I headed straight to all the good shopping on Grafton Street. My first stop was Marks & Spencers, which made me get all nostalgic about Scotland. Used to pick up all the yummy, extravagant chocolate mousse desserts at the M&S on Princes Street and enjoy them in the gardens below. I made no hesitation in picking up one of their melt-in-your-mouth chocolate shortbread slices from the bakery.Lots of butter and lots of sugar equals very happy Saloni.

That happy snack set me on my way to River Island, which has really fun wallets and handbags...and I pretty much wanted to buy a whole new wardrobe- maybe because I finally wasn't looking at things that cost hundreds of euros (Silly Paris). At that point though I'd not had my will power broken from shopping for non-groceries so my ogling didn't result in shopping bags. Top Shop has a lot of cute clothes, too. It's not as cutting edge fashion as the boutiques in Le Marais where I live but of course the pricing is much more accessible.

During her lunch hour, Brady took me to Butlers Chocolate Cafe where I had some hot chocolate and a whiskey truffle. Milk chocolate definitely has its place in my heart, but it was definitely a change from the intense dark chocolate consumption in France and Belgium.

Brady had a little more class so I decided to walk around St. Stephen's Green, which is a massivepark/garden. I wished I brought a book with me to lounge and read, but I had nothing but a map and camera on me. After a nice walk outside around the duck pond and starting-to-bloom trail, I decided to hit up the national museums, most of which were closed because of a low wage workers protest, but I was able to visit The National Gallery to see Jack B. Yeats' work. His painting "Many Ferries" intrigued me most.

At night, Brady took me The Porterhouse where I was able to satisfy my craving for Bailey's on the Rocks. The glass was shaped funny or more likely purposefully so that the ice cube could not leave the glass. I've decided when I return to Austin, I'll be mixing Baileys in cup of Sonic ice, yes, I hate fast-food, but this drive-in establishment is good for something.

After walking around the rest of Temple Bar(this can refer to the pub or the street of pubs), which I found to be rather touristy and what I envision what a street would look like if Party City got drunk and puked on it, I had Brady take me to O'Connel Street and forced swimsuit shopping on her. Rachel can take comfort in the fact that I've decided not to swim in a bra and underwear in Greece. We had gotten to this store and picked out all the swimsuits to try on and just as we reached the fitting rooms the store closed. Even though I was royally pissed at Penney's, I dragged Brady back there in the morning to finish what we started since the prices were just too good. I felt perfectly fine with purchasing a swimsuit for 7 euros because I will probably never use it after the trip. I pretty much hate swimming and never really need a bathing suit other water activities, but figured I must go swimming anyway in Greece because it's the thing to do. After picking out the swimsuit, I found a beautiful, lavender dress at surprisingly Penney's and had to get it. First article of clothing purchased on this trip! Brady got herself a burnt orange purse. I was a big advocate of Brady buying a purse and anything relating to her girly-transformation.

Purse packed with hiking essentials (aforementioned swimsuit and dress) Brady and I boarded the bus to Glendalough for "some green" as per my request. There we went hiking on a few nature trails in a lake filled valley below the mountains and shared a lovers' picnic on a fallen tree-trunk. In the forest, the air tasted so fresh and untainted from cigarettes. The trees and ground were covered in green moss and looked beautiful. Wherever I stood I could hear the sound of the stream, and for the first time I felt so at ease.

On Friday Night, we met up with the Frisbee kids (Brady plays on the Women's Ultimate Frisbee Team, go figure) for someone's twenty-first at this pub called The Bernard Shaw. It was fairly crowded, but there was was a back room reserved for us. Brady thinks drinks are expensive in Dublin. In France you can pay 4-5 euros for a half a pint. You pay that much in Dublin and get a full pint! Anyway, I ended up with one of the must-haves (I turned down the Guinness as I've tried it before and there was no way in heck I'd be able to consume an entire glass let alone more than sipfull, and some crazy purple drink called like Booker's Fast, someone correct me on this..because apparently it tastes like dying), a pint of Bulmers. That took me forever to drink. My belly is so small! And it wasn't pleasant to me either. I'm glad I have the sense not to keep up with Brady. She's full blooded Irish when it comes to drinking. Anyway the pub and meeting all of Brady's new friends was entertaining, but it soon came time for dancing at The Village! The atmosphere is very different from Parisian clubs. Most people just dance to dance and enjoy the good music ( a lot of indie techno, classic 80s songs ) excessive touching/grinding. It's definitely worth the cover, that's all I have to say. We danced until I don't know how long, and then Brady and I walked across town with some of the frisbee boys back to her dorms.

I had a lazy Saturday morning and slept in till noon (Brady had slept for what, 3 hours? and left for a frisbee tournament). I finally got up, showered, and made my way into center of town to finish up the tourist attractions which I decided to see at turtle pace. Rushing through from point-to-point just would've killed me. I enjoyed a tour(included in the entrance fee) of Dublin Castle, which now serves as a government building and visited the ChristChurch and St.
Patrick's Cathedrals. Actually after
seeing ChristChurch, I felt it unnecessary to pay to see the other and only walked around the nice garden outside. I exhausted myself from walking but managed to get myself as far as possible from Brady's dorm and so I inched slowly back to the dorms to meet her upon return from the tournament. So tired from my day, Brady and I just laid in bed reading for the evening, me with Twilight(KP lent it to me) and Brady with her physics textbook.

On Sunday, we woke up and took the DART tram to the fishing village of Howth.
Outside the station we ran into a fresh market where we tried on some seaweed beauty cream and got cupcakes! We hiked our way up
through the town on the hill with the warm sun shining down on us to get to Howth Head. The cliff was so green and beautiful and overlooked the
sea, definitely
breath-taking. Brady and I found a big rock and just sat to enjoy the good weather and a few sandwiches. After coming down the hill we walked around the other side of town to try and find some castle gardens.

At night we came home just in time to start getting ready for Brady's Texas Independence Day party fully equipped with enchiladas, salsa & chips, margaritas, and George Strait. Brady had just gotten started on the cooking when I realized she had several packets of Papadum and no tortillas!!! Papadum are like these fried, spicy Indian
crackers you eat with dinner and needless to say would not be useful in making enchiladas. Brady rushed back to the store while I kept Sean (a friend from UT also studying in Dublin) and the other guests company. She returned soon enough and taught me how to make some vegetarian enchiladas. So so easy and so so good. I will definitely be making these upon return home. I made them with some faux-chicken cubes (Quorn Chik'n Tenders) which actually worked out really nicely even though I didn't shred them like real chicken. It was so nice to eat something that tasted like home, although I still haven't killed my craving for guacamole, the last bit of Tex-Mex I had before leaving Texas. T sheer stomach delight sent me in a food coma for the few hours I had left before my flight back to Paris.