Adventures in Yonderland

A log of my adventures, both real and imagined.

Archive for the tag “Shopping”

Things I No Longer Understand Since France

1) Pancake mixes. (They don’t exist in France, so I’ve just been making them by scratch and it’s so easy!)

2) Gallons of milk. I mean, liters were working just fine and now I feel cowed by my own milk.

3) American alcohol culture. I just literally don’t understand anymore.

4) The lack of bakeries. Seriously though. Where the hell am I supposed to get pastries and bread?

5) Where’d all the cobblestone go?

6) How am I supposed to go places if I can’t walk there?

7) So…where did the espresso go?

8) You mean I can actually SEE my friends again? Wait. What? They live in the same time-zone? Woah man. One thing at a time please.

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Venice (Venezia)

Venice. A city I never thought I would go to, but go I have. And it was incredible. It is strange, the beauty of that city. Full of canals, the sea, bridges and gondolas, art and glass, masks and history. And yet, it is a tourist city. Unlike any city I have ever been to, it is a city of tourists, full of English and French speakers to a near universal capacity. Shops with masks and Murano glass line nearly every street. And yet the beauty remains and the pride of the lion continues to reign.

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We went to the Basilica San Marco and inside it was incredible. Gold plated frescos and massive, square columns.

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And the Dowager Palace. Full of art, the “golden stairway” and beautiful examples of architechture. Including the prisons, in which we managed to get lost briefly. Don’t worry, we made it out.

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There was Murano, the island of glasswork. That place was cool. It was independent from Venice for much of it’s history and was the old master of glass production, the secrets passed through time from father to son. We saw a glass-blowing demonstration there.

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We also went to the Glass Museum “Museo [Viterio].” Aside from some of the most beautiful examples of glasswork chandeliers and table “centerpieces” so extensive they were patterned after castle gardens, they also had glass from the 1st century there. That’s right. Glasswork nearly two millennia old.

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We took a water bus as well and that was interesting and strange. Floating bus stations. So cool.

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We did manage to get stuck on the wrong side of the canal once, and then were faced with the interesting realization that you can’t just walk across the street when you’re on the wrong side.

It’s a city of dreams. A city from the books my father read me as a child, full of the kind of beauty made more beautiful because of its dying.

And when you see the lion. There seems no animal more appropriate. Fierce, protective, oftentimes lying down. As if even in its fatigue, it carries its full power and pride yet.

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Five Lessons

So I’ve only been in France four months. These are five things I’ve learned:

1) Just because I live on a mountain doesn’t mean your beach isn’t awesome. Meaning that just because I’ve taken the “high ground” (let’s just say that according to Wikipedia, “Due to a law dating from 1872, the French Republic prohibits performing census by making distinction between its citizens regarding their race or their beliefs.” Which sounds great, but kind of, you know, hides any possible racism you could cite with statistics) doesn’t make me necessarily better than you. We’re just different. That said, New Orleans floods.

2) Whatever intelligence is, I guarentee you can’t define it. In Cognitive psych we talked about how memory is exponentially cumulative (thank you schemas), so me and my intelligent self won’t get as much as someone who’s studied the subject more for no other reason than they have more experience in the area. Plus, take a test in a different language and you tell me about intelligence.

3) Food is magic. I can’t express to you the power of daily, fresh baguettes and soup. If God gave man soul Nyquil, food would be it. And the best part is, everyone has their own. And we all get to share it.

4) Music is magic. I would go crazy without music here. It’s a home. Like books, but even those are like a cramped little hut when you have to read them in French.

5) If you’re constipated you either: have not consumed enough water, have not been eating enough fruit/vegetables/whole grains, are stressed out and need to chill, or some combination of the three.

So basically, sit back and relax. Accept difference and embrace both it and your own quirks without considering one better than another. Eat good, whole food. And take time to listen, hydrate, eat and relax. ‘Cause too many people die on the toilet.

Hallelujah! It’s Raining…Soccer

This is the song I was thinking of when I made that title. I encourage you to laugh, either at the song, me, or my poor attempts at humor.

The important thing! However, is that I played soccer today! In the rain! With lighting. And hail…

Okay it got rained out towards the end there, BUT I did get to play for a good while before the weather went to complete crap! It took me most of our play time just to get back in the swing of things, but I felt like I was finally starting to get back into it towards the end. Of course, it didn’t help that I don’t really know what the soccer terminology is in French, so I felt just a little bit useless.

Lots of Arabs too which I found really cool and interesting. The immigrant population isn’t always super obvious here, but I think it’s really cool when it is. There are a lot of interesting people to hear, watch and learn from.

Coffee-Fueled Excitement

Today I drank way too much coffee, which normally I would list as a problem because it elevates me to a level of excitement that is not only socially unexceptable, but is really not conducive to note taking (let’s just say I will make circles into squigglies given the chance). HOWEVER, it really served to boost my good mood for the day AND get me through our methodology course, which started today and is not very entertaining at all. Okay, it’s not terrible. But coffee. Good stuff.

Wow. So far today has been really boring. But it’s been a great day.

Lots of coffee.

Knitting

I want to knit a blanket (one of the girls on the program said she would teach me -I should mention that there are only four guys in our program, so “one of the girls” denotes one of quite a few people haha) BUT, I don’t know how much yarn to buy, where I should get it, or how much it’s going to cost.

Any of you people know what I should do? And is it worth it, or should I just go buy a blanket for the winter and stick to carving?

Hope everyone is having a lovely day!

Making Music

So last night I went and trucked Monsieur Guy (the guitar) over to my friends’ apartment space thing to play music. I probably should have thought more on what to expect, ha, but I didn’t. SO, when I got there I was super surprised. In like an awesome way. There was four of us total. One on the violin, one on piano, one singer/look up things for us and me. It was awesome. We bonded over shared interests and beautiful music.

This year has really taught me a lot about the value of music and friends. It’s kind of surprising really. I’m learning more and more just why there is so much mythos around music in tradition, literature and all that.

It’s worth it. Those small hours with friends, smiles and music.

Yeah. The small warm times.

They’re worth everything.

Je suis sans internet pour le moment.

There is no wi-fi, or really internet at all, in my apartment. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if the only way I could contact my friends or family was NOT the internet. However. Nothing I can do about that so…cyber café it is!

So. My adventures of the past day. We went to “Les Gorges du Verdon.” It was absolutely beautiful. Regardez!

Really though, it was awesome. I even went on a little adventure by myself to the bridge to see the gorge. That was cool. It went way back into the mountains. The water was a green-blue (you can see that, obviously) and apparently this is mostly because of the clay found in the region. The lake itself is actually man-made so that they could build power-plants along the way. Apparently the Verdon river is really, really strong and fast. Normally I might complain about damaging the landscape and such, but a) the French seem to be generally much more environmentally aware than we are in the states and b) that lake is frickin’ beautiful. Sorry. Just is.

And the clay is good for your skin.

The clay is also good for pottery. We went to a town called Sainte Marie that is well-known in the area for its pottery production. And ALSO, for a chapel near the summit of one of the mountains that back the town. Now there are a few interesting stories about this chapel. HOWEVER, to be honest I’m really unclear on exactly what’s cool about it. Because the lady guiding the tour was speaking in somewhat accented French and using a bunch of fairly obscure words. And I was tired. Might have a lot to do with that last one.

ANYWAY, apparently it’s a place for miracles and a bunch of really cool things. Barren women have been known to conceive after praying there (or at least one woman who went on the tours ha). Anyway, it was awesome. In all seriousness. I feel like I’ve gotten much less religious in a traditional sense over the years, but there was definitely something powerful about this place. First of all, it was quite a hike.

Second, it sits almost at the top of some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. They’re really incredible.

Third, it’s designed like a cathedral, as in the same style. But it’s a lot simpler. Like, it’s not built to awe in the way a cathedral is. I don’t see someone pointing to the awesome power of God who made this gigantic, towering building. No, it was something so much purer than that. It was a quiet space. It embodied what a place of worship should be: something quite, beautiful and thought-provoking. I’m not catholic, but I did buy a candle and say a prayer. And that’s a lot for me. I feel like it’s something I’m not supposed to do or shouldn’t because I’m just a tourist, but the sheer beauty of that place stripped me of all that. And I took one moment to calm myself.

After that we went to where the great Provencal lavender fields are. It’s all been harvested already (thank you abnormally hot summer), but we learned about how lavender is grown and processed. I bought a bar of honey soap and a honey sucker. Yeah, not very lavendery I know. However, the lavender stuff was fairly expensive. I spent a little over 2 euro for my delicious sucker and absolutely fantastic soap.

Oh. And some other mini-adventures for the day. I bought ½ kilo of candied ginger. For any of you who don’t know how much a half kilo is. IT’S WAY TOO MUCH GINGER. I’ll be eating that stuff for a year. Oh well.

And finally, on our way to the gorges, we passed an experimental thermonuclear reactor.

…um…what?

Really though, it’s fine. It’s supposed to be just like all-around better. So I guess that’s good. But still. THERMONUCLEAR.

Getting Closer!!

Five days left!! Boy it’s an adrenaline rush. My strategy of not thinking about it so I can sleep at night is beginning to fail epically. HOWEVER, once all the stuff I ordered comes in the mail, that’s it. I got the rest of it. Well, aside from contact solution, but that’s a ten minute Marsh trip. You should SEE my new wardrobe though. It’s legit. Not gonna lie, I have never really made it to “fashionable” in my entire life, but I think I may be well on my way to earning that title now. They told us not to worry about dressing up to match the locals, but considering the fact that after I did my closet clean-out, I had only a single pair of presentable pants left, I felt the time was appropriate.

Actually, I sent my mom and best friend to shop for me and then went back to the stores with my mom yesterday to get everything to fit right. It was awesome. And got a lot harder as the day went on. I really hate trying on clothes. Haha. Much to the chagrin of anyone who has ever clothes shopped with me. HOWEVER, it can and has been done.

Today commences packing day. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life started this early, but then again, I’ve also never been away from home for a year. SO, perspectives.

As I begin to round myself up to leave, here my friends is another song for you (it even has a cool music video!):

ONE WEEK

Well my friends, the time is winding down. All my various “upkeep” appointments are done. The time for online shopping has more or less passed as the item might not get here in time (unless I want to pay for crazy fast shipping). By the end of today I will have pants (cleaned out my wardrobe leaving me a single pair of cargo pants, which I still hold are awesome. However, I am very likely making a large transition into a new part of my fashion life) and even some new shirts. Actually, I can’t decide which I’m more concerned for. Those choices I have left in the hands of my best friend and my mom. I do trust them.

Usually.

Anyway, it seems just so weird that there is so little left to do. After a visa application requiring hours of prep and more thought than I really wanted, it just seems strange to have so little left.

  • Bank: called.
  • Required reading french book: Ha.
  • Talk with my boss to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my life: done.
  • Friends: not quite done with them yet, thank God.

And now, it is time to leave you with a song for today.

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