Monday, January 30, 2012

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Menton, & Monaco

I can't even describe how great it is to have a good friend in the same country as me, even if she is living five to six hours away. The boring train rides and rainy weather were worth it. Et comme d'habitude, she managed to post all of her pictures from this weekend long before me. :)

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and Menton


Me and Anna on our way to Ventimiglia... not.
We were going to check out the big Friday market in Ventimiglia, Italy but only got as far as Menton, France due to a strike in Italy. I guess strikes aren't just a French thing after all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Weekend Getaway to Nice

One of the best parts about being back in France is that my friend Anna is finally here! We decided to take a trip to Nice on the first weekend I was back in France. We stayed at a hostel called Hotel Meyerbeer Beach. If you ever find yourself looking for a place to stay in Nice, I would definitely recommend it. We did a lot of walking around, doing our best to visit some sights on foot and eat lots of great food -- not to mention do some shopping now that the sales season is here. 

Nice was a beautiful city and I hope to get back again sometime before my months here are up!

Our room -- I thought the Che pillows were a nice touch. Photo via Anna

A sunny day -- no jacket or scarf required. Photo via Anna

Note the little sitting men on poles. They change colors at night.

Ferris wheel

Me and Anna. Photo via Anna

Friday, January 20, 2012

French Music Friday -- Vol. 6: Michel LeGrand & Jacques Demy

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort was the second French musical I'd ever seen. Like Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, it stars Catherine Deneuve but it's less of an opera and more of a musical. I was surprised to see George Chakiris (Bernardo from West Side Story) and Gene Kelly speaking and singing in French, but found upon further inspection that they had been dubbed. 

My favorite song was "La Chanson de Maxence." Maxence is a sailor and a painter pining away for his dream woman, aka Catherine Deneuve. P. and S. thought he looked like Draco Malfoy with his blonde hair. The English version is called "You Must Believe in Spring."

Bon week-end!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Proposal Story -- Mahna-mahna

The day after Christmas, Tyler and I went to see the new Muppet movie with my family. I loved it so much. It was funny and sweet and had the same old silly humor as always. One of the main jokes of the movie was that Amy Adams and Jason Segel had been a couple for ten years and still weren't married or engaged. I'd say sorry for spoiling the movie, but it shouldn't come as any surprise that at the end of the film, he finally pops the question. And what is her response?

"Mahna mahna." After Tyler proposed to me four days later, he said, "Well, I'm glad you didn't say mahna-mahna." I laughed out loud. I should have said it.

After twenty days, I finally sat down to write a detailed account of how Tyler proposed. It's lengthy with probably too many details, so skip to the last few paragraphs if you get bored. Here is the story for those of you who are curious...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home for the Holidays: A Ragtag Round-up

I have attempted to start this post about ten times and am always feeling too lazy to write. I try to journal about events before blogging about them so that I don't waste my storytelling -- not that writing on the blog is a waste, but I tend to not write about events if I've already typed them. Recopying/handwriting in my journal a post that took me 1/4 of the time to type... it's just no bueno. Trust me. I've done it before.

I promise I'll give better explanations later, but here is a ragtag round-up of photos from my past month.

Childhood Christmas books

Tyler & me

Friday, January 13, 2012

French Music Friday -- Vol. 5: Coeur de Pirate

Now that I'm back in France, French Music Friday is back. As with Claire Denamur, Coeur de Pirate (Beatrice Martin) is an artist that I knew about before crossing the Atlantic. However, she is better-known than Claire Denamur -- the Coeur de Pirate wikipedia page is translated into six languages while Mlle Denamur's page is only available in French.

I had a hard time choosing which song of hers to post because I have many favorites, but this music video is the most entertaining with a story easy for non-francophones to follow. You know that part in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when King Arthur chops off all of the Black Knight's limbs in a duel? If that made you feel squeamish, you might want to look away at around 2:12-2:16 when the brunette is flirting with the football player. Just a heads up. No pun intended.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Before I came home for Christmas, I went to see Intouchables -- the most popular film in France of the year and second most popular film in France of all time. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, some American film critics have called the film racist since it depicts the growing friendship between a white, wealthy boss and a black, poor caretaker, or as one critic put it, a "jolly house slave of yore." Personally I think the American reviewers are being short-sighted and finding offense where European audiences simply wouldn't. What I found offensive was that a black actor was hired to play the caretaker when in the real life story, the man is actually Arabic, but that's another issue entirely.

Anyway, my favorite scene was at the beginning. I won't spoil it for you, but just know it involves a police escort and an Earth, Wind & Fire song that I could not get out of my head all Christmas break... or stop singing in the car while cruising down a traffic-less freeway in Arizona for the first time in three months. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vikings and a catchy cowbell rant

I have a love/hate relationship with Swiss Air right now (Cheapoair too, but there's only so much one can expect from a company with that name). After the hell they put me through (telling me I was SOL at the ticket counter in Lyon and not helping me until I cried, deliberately scheduling me for a new flight that they knew would inevitably be cancelled again, not letting me change my departure city to Geneva until six hours before I would have to take a four hour train ride to get there, making me pay $400 to change my return date, etc.), my instinct was to create a catchy tune entitled "Swiss Air is the Devil" (cowbell accompaniment?), put it on YouTube, have the video go viral, go on a few talk shows, and destroy the airline's future client base.

However, I started to have a change of heart once I got to Geneva. When I checked my bag, I was told to proceed immediately to my gate to take an earlier flight to Zurich. The plane ended up departing an hour late because the runway was too icy for takeoff and needed to be cleaned. This "earlier" flight ended up taking off at the same time as my original flight, and had I stuck with my original flight I would have presumably missed my connection in Zurich, so that was my first bit of good luck. And they gave me yummy Swiss chocolates. And the flight attendants all spoke three languages. And they were super nice. Quadruple win.

Once I got on my flight, I was psyched to see that there were TV screens on each of the seat backs. The food was delicious and it felt like they would never stop feeding us. I had dinner, two snacks, and breakfast. And more chocolate. Somewhere during that time I watched The Way (excellent) and part of The Help (also excellent) before falling asleep next to a man who looked like a viking. Later when he was filling out customs papers, I discovered that my instincts were correct. He was Norwegian.

The only mishap was when my remote stopped working with three hours left of the flight. That part was sad.

My next flight from San Francisco to Phoenix went by crazy fast. A friend of mine happened to be on the same flight, so we chatted the entire time. From that point on, my vacation was wonderful.

My return to France went surprisingly smoothly. There were zero delays and two of my flights were half-empty. While waiting for my connection in San Francisco on the way back to France, I spent some time on the phone putting in an insurance claim with the nicest lady I've dealt with during this whole catastrophe. She assured me that I will be reimbursed the $400 I was charged and was shocked that they had the nerve to charge me the fee in the first place. It was a relief to talk to someone who finally acknowledged the ridiculousness of the situation. Now all I have to do is send in some paperwork within the next year to get my refund.

For the moment, I am happy with Swiss Air. However if my claim gets rejected and I don't get my refund, I might just have to write that catchy, anti-Swiss Air, cowbell, rant-y song. And then I'll post Facebook status updates asking you to share the link.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Greatest Event of 2011

I have so much catching up to do on this blog. On Friday morning before I got on my plane back to France, I was marveling at how fast my weeks back in Arizona went by when one of my friends said, "Because they were so eventful!" So true.

I would love to write all about it chronologically, but I'm having a hard time thinking about anything but the events since December 30th, the day Tyler proposed. That's right, folks. After more than eight years of courtship, our engagement is finally official!

For now I have more unpacking to do and planning for my classes next week, but details will be here soon.

Happy 2012!