Thursday, October 9, 2008

MAGICAL MOMENTS IN FRANCE- Reflections of a lost aussie in France

Biggest Surprise - How friendly the french people are. How beautiful France really is
Biggest Problem - Learning the french language. The Paris Metro
Favourite Cities - Bordeaux, Chancelade, Grenoble, Rennes, Paris.

A city I could Live In - Bordeaux or Rennes or Paris
Magical Moment - Music Day in Aix En Provence, Flying in the cesna
Favourite Food - Frommage, Fondue, Baguettes,flemnkuche

Favourite Drink - Red Wine and more red wine
Embarrassing Moment Breaking Steffs Toilet, Flooding Jean-Pierres bathroom
Favourite Dogs - Tattoon, Oxo, Kelly and Nina.... all great dogs

I wish I could - Speak french properly i destroyed the french language
Biggest Mistake - Exploring Paris without a map - excuse emoi je suis perdu
Likes - The french people, french food and french wine

Dislikes - seeing street people without homes, spitting
Funniest person met - Jean Luc, he is such a great man
Most beautiful cities - Bordeaux, Rennes, Lille, Carcasonne,

Paris people are - so friendly
Next time I wont visit - Nice as the people were unfriendly, great beaches though
French girls are - so gorgeous

Most dangerous moment - the drunk guy who approached un Bordeaux and was a bit crazy
I was scared when - I got lost in the metro in Paris
Most annoying moment - Losing my train ticket

Most outgoing people stayed with - Anne, Jeremy,
Happiest Person - Francsoise
French or Australian food - french but i do miss vegemite and tim tams

Biggest Surprise - making so many new french friends
Favourite french words - merci beaucoup, Ja na com pon pa, hou la la,
Best discovery - french cheese, french wine, french music

Magical moment - teaching high school students english with Virginie
Favourite photo me in a laneway taken by Martine
Something broken - Steffs toilet seat in Toulouse....sorry Steff

Something new bought - french movies and music
I didnt like - steak tartae, snails and frogs.
Greatest scenic view - Chammonix

French people are - so helpful
My biggest problem - getting lost, always having to look for toilets, losing my phone
Typically french - baguettes, crossaints, scarves, cheese,

I was scared when - William took me around Paris in a heart was pounding
Funniest Moment Number 1 - Jean-Luc putting the nets over his tree
Funniest moment number 2- Michel not seeing the flying fish in his pond

Favourite french sport - football
Something I couldnt do - speak french properly, climb the eiffel tower
Favourite monument - The Eiffel tower

Someone I would love to see in Melbourne - Jerome, Jeremy, Eric, Gael, Bruno
The worst thing about france - sometimes its crowded and it can be expensive
The best thing about France - the people, the wine and the food

Favourite small town Chancelade, La Marillais,
I should have brought more - vegemite, warm clothes and tim tams
A place I want to visit again - Paris, La Marillais, Bordeaux, Claudines house.

Best advise given to me - Dont worry if you get the french wrong when you are speaking
Something french I will take back home - music, posters, movies
Best party - Claudines beach party

Best Festival - The music festival that Jean-Luc and Gaby took me to
best Concert - Perpinnan in the old cstle
Charming Towns, Chancelade, St Emilion, Carcassonne, Chammonix

Guardian angels - Martine, Michel, Jean Luc, Gaby, Christine, Menez family and William
Jerome, Laura, Anne, Melinda, Gildas, Eric, and many more
A city I would like to revisit - Lyon as I was sick while I was there

Best weather in France - Nice, Marsielle
Coldest Cities - Periguex, Boulogne- I swear there were icebergs in the water at Boulogne as it was freezing cold

Most rain seen - Boulogne, Bordeaux
I got lost in - oh please...too many places...mostly in Paris and Perpignan
My hero - All the hosts and french people who took care of me.
I am proud of - The perfect french that I can now speak - oh please well I try.

Biggest heart - Martine, Christine, Jean Luc, Jeremy, I learned to - Love France
Wealthy people live in Aix En Province, Nice, Monaco, Arcachion
I felt sorry for - the homeless people and the people who listened to me speak french

I had trouble with - the euro, the metro, the french language
New friends made - so many - Steph and James and heaps more
Old friends revisited - Virginie and Gildas, Melinda, Laura, Eric and Jerome, William, Romain and Christelle

Nicest Children - Claudines family Vincent and Carolines baby Clement
Supermarket mistakes - Not weighing the fruit, getting soup and soap mixed up
It was special when - I taught english in a french school- great students

Most scenic drives - Both Christine and Martine took me for some lovely drives
Best Bike Ride - Gaby and Jean Luc took me riding beside a river and through towns
Will I come back to France -yes of course, next time to live

Biggest Regret - Not staying longer in France
Best present given to me- French Calendar of french towns from Thierry
Something that amused me - The water really does turn in the toilet bowl in a different direction;

I missed- my dogs, my family and my that order.
I didnt know- that the french are such proud people
Best building seen- The Eiffel Tower

Advice given to aussies travelling to France- Learn a bit of french before leaving
Favourite french celebrity - Bernard Menez....hahaha he is the only celebrity met
Favourite french movie - Amélie

Thankyou to all my friends not only in France but also in Switzerland, Morocco, Portugal and Spain who took such great care of me throughout my journey. Its been the most amazing trip. Thanks heaps and please come and visit me in Melbourne

Back to Paris and Houilles

It was sad saying goodbye to Gildas and Virginie who have become two of my really close friends in France. They are both really special people and they took such good care of me. I loved teaching english to the French high school students.

Anyhow Jeremy greeted me with his usual positive and vibrant personality and straight away I met his new housemate Nicola and a whole heap of couchsurfers. Its always great to get back to Paris and knowing that I only have a weeks travel left makes it all the more special.

We sat around drinking some red wine and talking about our travel experiences and I met a couple of couchsurfers from mexico and also a german and french couchsurfer. I spent my first day walking around Paris and I agaian visited the Eiffel Tower and I walked beside the Sienne River which is beautiful. Paris is such a great city and a guy in the metro let me use it for free as he couldnt be bothered helping me to use the ticket machine. hahaha what a great guy.

I made my way by train to Houilles where Vincent, a mate collected me from the train station. He is such a great guy; I really appreciated him and Caroline hosting me as they were in the middle of moving into their new apartment. Anyhow my first day I spent looking around Houilles and I met their friends Julian and Emmaline who are such
great people. I also met Carolines father Thierry who is the most lovely person. It seems like a great city and it was so great to finally meet Clement. Wow what an amazing baby. So happy and playful and always giggling and smiling. Caroline and Vincent are so good with him. Those of you who know me well know I am not a baby person, but you look at Clement and he makes you want to have children as he is so adoreable. Yes I even held him for half an hour when I was with Emmaline and he is such a cute kid. I tried to help a bit with the move and I packed some boxes and also carried some into the new apartment. As most of you would know I hate manual work and I spent most of my time making Vincent and Julian laugh. Thanks heaps for the three days of fun. Also Thierry bought me a book showing photographs of all the little villages in France. Wow its such a good pressent and Vincent gave me some more french music.

Now to spend my last dayw with Jeremy and Nicolas who are both choked up with colds at the moment. So I went out and bought some fruit juice and fruit for them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lille, Bethune, Calais, Arras and Boulogne

Finally I got to travel to the north of France and Stefan met me at the Bethune train station. He is such a nice guy and so helpful. He took me to his house in a town ajoining Bethune and we had a surprise reunion for Virginie, Gildas and Virginie who I hadnt seen since Melbourne some time ago. It was so great to see them again and Stefan is such a good cook, we had the most delicious dinner.

Finally I got to travel to the north of France and Stefan met me at the Bethune train station. He is such a nice guy and so helpful. He took me to his house in a town ajoining Bethune and we had a surprise reunion for Virginie, Gildas and Virginie who I hadnt seen since Melbourne some time ago. It was so great to see them again and Stefan is such a good cook, we had the most delicious dinner.

The following day Stefan took me to Calais which is a coastal port and we went to Sangatte which is a beach where Gildas does his windsurfing. It was so so gusty and very cold. Then he showed me around Calais and later on him and Virginie took me out for lunch. They then showed me around Lille. What an amazing city with such old buildings and friendly people. I know that I loved Rennes and I think Lille is equal to it as far as beauty goes.

Later on we called in and saw Gildas at his fire station and I got to meet all of the firefighters. I sat in the truck and chatted with all the guys who were all so friendly. Gildas is such a nice guy and Stefan and Virginie were so great to me in showing me around everywhere.

The following day Gildas picked me up after having a sleepin and he took me to Arras which is also a scenic city. We had the best kebabs on earth and even though it was freezing cold I enjoyed seeing the town. Then we drove to Boulogne where I Gildas and Virginie live in a caravan. I stayed in an old farmhouse that belongs to Virginies parents. I love their old dog which looks 100 but is probably only 15. So gorgeous.
The rain and the bad weather has set in and I swear I am frozen solid. hahahaha

Virginie took me in to the school where she teaches and I gave somes english lesson to the students who are 16 and 17 year olds. I talked about Australia and also about my life there and I spoke about my travels within France. It was so cool and Virginie's supervising teacher was so lovely. A great experience all around, as the students were so attentive.

Ive just been amazed with how nice the french people have been towards me and I have really loved my time here. Its going to be sad for me next year when I return back to Australia.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rennes-Mont St Michel-Saint Malo

It was really sad for me to leave Portugal as the people were so warm and friendly. But going to France is always a delight for me and I just love Paris. My headcold is getting worse. I think maybe I caught it from Jakub, who I travelled with. hahahaha Also I have the added problem that the bed bug bites seem to getting worse and I feel like the elephant man as they are so itchy. Melinda gave me some oil to put on them but I just feel bad about them and I may have to go to see a doctor. Hopefully one who can speak english.

I caught a train to Rennes and my friend Melinda met me at the railway station. Wow what a beautiful city. Straight away she took me to see a special exhibition at Les Champs Libres. It had all of these old fashioned games which we played and also it had a special exhibition of the worlds spiders and also showed photographs from a famous french photographer of people around the world. It was great to arrive and to see this straight away.

We then walked the streets of Rennes, which I have to say is one of the most beautiful cities in France. We eventually ate at a creperie. I ate a galette with ham, cheese and egg as well. It was so tasty. I also had the local cola which I liked as well. The Rennes people seem to be so friendly as it is a university town and it has such good vibes about it.

The following morning Melinda took me to the local flower and food markets. They were so colorful and her brother, Maxime was working at the markets so I got to meet him. Melinda said my french has improved, but maybe I dont agree as I still have the aussie accent. Its great to see Melinda after first meeting her in Melbourne and then again in Wellington. Her apartment is brilliant and full of small tokens of her travels. I also bought some french movies today and Melinda will burn some music for me.

I cant stop thinking about how friendly the french people are in Rennes. They seem to be smiling all the time. Probably they are laughing at the way I use their language so poorly......hahahaha Anyhow I took a bus to Mont St Michel which was really stunning. I had a crepe with sugar there, which is traditional for this area...just delicious. I also took some great photographs along the way.

Then I travelled to Saint Malo which is where Melinda my friend was born. It is a really magnificent coastal town and I met some great German and British backpackers in the hostel. We cooked dinner together and we stayed up chatting. The following morning I walked along the beach into the old city which is so historical and really gorgeous. I think I could easily live in France. I caught the bus back to Rennes, which is now one of my favourite places in France...along with many others.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Porto and Braga

The bus ride to Porto was scenic but this young portuguese girl stole my seat when i got off to have a cafe and i knew why she had done it. There was a noisy baby behind her so she took my seat deliberately to get away from him. When i asked her to move she refused so I took her seat and luckily the baby slept the whole way.

Upon arrival in Porto I had hassels finding the hostel and I met a few not so friendly people and also a few very friendly people as well. Its all part of the journey. Finally upon arrival at the hostel I met a few backpackers who were really nice.

I met Jakub from Poland in the hostel and we had some dinner together and we spoke with Max from Austria. Anyhow Jakub was going to Braga the following day so I arranged to go there with him. It will be good to see another city in Portugal.

We set out the following day and Jakub showed me around Porto. Wow what an amazing city. We went up to the cathedral which had the most amazing views of the city. Then we went across this bridge which had stunning views of the city of Porto and also views of the river. It was very beautiful. He also showed me a really nice park where I took heaps of photographs.

Then we went back to the train station where Jakub bought our tickets for Braga. I let him do the talking as he speaks spanish which is similar to portuguese. He has been living in Madrid. The train ride to Braga was really scenic and we talked the whole way. He told me many things about Poland and also the second world war.

Upon arrival in Braga, we went through the city centre. It has beautiful fountains, gardens and cathedrals. It also has the nicest old buildings. We then caught a bus out to this cathetral called Bom de Jesus Monte. It had amazing views of the city and the gardens up there were just beautiful. We talked heaps up there. Jakubs cold seemed to be getting worse and I seemed to be catching it, as I was sneezing heaps by the end of the day. There was a storm brewing so we decided to catch a train back to Porto, which was a good decision as there was a lot of lightning and thunder.

The whole way back in the train wee watched the rain falling down and upon arrival we used the internet cafe and then caught a bus back to our hostel. On the bus we talked to some lovely italian people who were stayiing in our hoste. Once back at the hostel we had a drink with Max and the Italians and also a guy from Prague. It was a great day of travel. Jakub is such a nice guy and very thoughtful and I hope to see him in Melbourne some day soon. He is so organized and heaps of fun to travel with.

The following morning I saaid goodbye to Jakub and the two spanish guys who we shared breakfast with. It was a cold day and raining heavily. Last night I had a dormitory to myself. No snoring to keep me awake.

The following day I walked around the city with Max from Austria. A really great guy, and so easy going. It was great to spend the day with him and we had a few beers beside the river. Life is sweet. The old buildings and the beautiful bridges make this town so so gorgeous. Max is coming to Australia soon so it will be so much fun to host him in Australia.

Spent a restless night in the hostel in Porto where this british guy snored his head off. It was so so bad. The worst I have ever heard and it kept everyone awake. I had breakfast with three really nice spanish backpackers and then hit the road. I walked around the coastal area of Porto and then caught a bus into the city centre. Its jusr a stunning city and im lucky as my last day here and its so sunny and hot.