Monthly Archives: September 2011

Africa Hot!

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Yes, it has been Africa hot or seemingly so here in Paris. 

“Hey, Hey!” as they would say in Stockholm, which translated means “Hello, Hello”.  Your guest blogee dad again (Maria has committed to Saturday or Sunday’s blog; you know, the weekend stint when everyone is out and away from their laptop/desktop.)  It was a lot of fun walking into a store or a restaurant and having the locals yell, Hey Hey!  I wanted to respond, “Hey, what’s up?” but knew they wouldn’t get it or appreciate it.

So, again we are breaking all kinds of Fall weather records here in Paris.  I must say, unlike Boston’s or Washington DC’s public transit, the Parisians don’t believe in air conditioning, or perhaps the open windows in the train is the air conditioning.  Blazing hot on #4 train which is our dominant train as it takes us to the lovely Latin quarter…lest you think this means salsa dancing and stuff, no, this means the Latin quarter as in Rome!  Seems all of Kelsey’s preferred shops and restaurants are in this quarter. But tonight we fooled train #4 (it was broken down for a few minutes) and did a loop around to get to our destination.  Bravo train #7! 

The dogs were barking again today.  Maria and I ventured out alone as Kelsey was diligently using her UC educational time in classes today.  We managed to order lunch, find our way to the opera, shuffled through the park in front of the Louvre and lost all of our energy in front of the Grand Palace on the Champs Elysee…thank goodness train # 1 had an entrance just as we were about to expire.  We quickly transported our way home, bought a nice bottle of Sancere 2010 (theme here), cracked that open with some bread and cheese and Bob’s your uncle!

Kelsey arrived and decided to use our shower as her upper quandrant hadn’t seen water and soap in a few days (recall small shower description) and off we went to another wonderful dinner where I had macaroni and cheese with mushrooms (otherwise known as rigatoni champiogne), Maria had duck and Kelsey had a beautiful fish all washed down with a lovely Pinot Noir.

Now we are home and getting ready for another Africa hot day at Versailles, 28 C (82 F for you Americans) and no relief in sight…we didn’t think we would be saying this but please can we get some non-California weather!

Till next blog…Au revoir!

Three Abreast Doesn’t Work in Paris

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Hello fellow Handstand Followers!  Guest blogger (blogee?) dad here.  We’re giving Kelsey a rest as she has been quite a tour guide, safety officer, personal shopper and chef the past three days! In fact she mentioned that she slept really well last night…could have been the fabulous food we ate at Fish La Boissonnerie on the rue de Seine…Kelsey tried to throw down some French but they would have none of it…in fact Maria was convinced our waitress was American because her English seemed very natural and without accent.  It’s been great to watch Kelsey maneuver with her French and interpret stuff for us.  She’s really getting it down.  We’ve been working on not standing out as ugly Americans (“yes I am going to wear my New Balance running shoes with white socks; no I did not bring my Birkenstocks”) and to mind our manners when we walk into Kelsey’s favorite stores; “Bonjour” as we greet our storekeepers, “Mom, don’t touch that”  “Mom, don’t point and put your fingers on the storefront glass.” “Merci and Au Revoir” as we leave each place whether we bought something or not.  Its a lot of work but it has been fun and eventful.  However it has been hard to walk three abreast when the side walk is barely a meter wide (3 ft. for you folks back in America.) We’re either ahead of each other or side by side taking out the opposing walkers! 

Lots to see and do in Paris.  I thought about breaking out the beret and cigarettes but again too hot for the hat and the second hand smoke (now wafting into our apartment window) is enough to make us feel plenty Parisian.  Thank goodness we are going to Versailles on Friday to get some of that fresh country air and to see how the other half lived back then.  Speaking of apartment, the place has worked out well.  Lots of room to walk around, small kitchen to cook in (Kelsey has cooked two nights out of the three so far, salmon and cod and chicken tonight for Maria.)  We’ve ascertained that she has taken on the kitchen witch gene from Maria’s side…get out of the kitchen while she’s working…besides it is only four feet by three feet!  The results have been “Walaah” as they say when your food arrives in front of you…or something to that effect.  We have eaten very well. 

In terms of Kelsey’s previous blogs, we have definite verification now.  She sleeps on something slightly a step above the cardboard the drunk at the Louvre was “resting” on today.  Her shower clearly was made for a small 6 year old child who actually doesn’t like to get wet.  And most importantly, she is in a secure square that took me about 3 minutes to figure out the correct buzzer and door sequence to get not only out of the building but onto the street through the square where her apt. is.  We’re happy about that.  I also want to report however that Consumer Reports will be getting a quick email from me on the shoddy workmanship of her rollie bag…first time we took it out for a spin the wheel came off…any sidewalk bump and off it comes.  Where is my hotglue gun when you need it.

So it is time for me to turn in and get ready for another four or five miles tomorrow.  We will see if we can coax Maria into a guest appearance tomorrow or so…right now she is in her PJs reading her iPad.  The second day abroad is always the hardest trying to acclimate. 

So I say to you all “Bonsoir” which means “Good Evening”…I think.

Introducing…

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It’s been a filled past two days with the parents, we have covered much of Paris and I have shown them a lot of my favorite places. They are keeping me pretty busy, so I’m not going to write a lengthy blog today because…my parents have requested to guest blog! So, I’m granting them access to my blog to write one of their own. Keep posted for their blogs! I’ll return later in the week with lots of stories about their trip and whatnot.

I left my heart (charger) in Amboise.

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And I’m back! From my lovely couple’s retreat that is. But fo reals, my trip to the Loire Valley was absolutely fantastic, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. As I was telling my uncle on the phone last night (who lived with my aunt in New York for years) that I have never lived in a city before, so I never really understood why city people would say, “I just need to get out of the city” and they would go away for the weekend. I remember Hugo told me a couple weeks ago that he was looking forward to getting out of Paris and I just looked at him like, “um hi, why would you ever need to leave Paris?” But now I get it. Because getting some fresh air, seeing some actual trees and shrubbery, and going to a quieter place was just divine. Outside of Paris, things are cheaper (significantly), people are friendlier, and ironically, I probably spoke the most french in comparison to a day in Paris (and they all spoke English in Amboise for the most part). I will you give you a little play by play of how the trip went.

So our train to Amboise was leaving Paris at 1040ish (I can’t remember the exact time) and I was surprisingly feeling very calm regarding the whole train situation. The reason why I state this is because first of all for me to be calm during travel is a rarity (refer back to my previous admission regarding my control freak ways). The other reason why I’m calling attention to my calmness is because of the Great Train Debacle of 2008. In case you haven’t heard this story, sit down because it’s quite interesting. It’s entertaining for me to look back on, but while it was occurring, I pretty much wanted to cry nonstop. This story also proves the luck that I lack.

Ok, so I decided I was going to visit my friend Scott at Cal Poly SLO (San Luis Obispo) and I decided that I would take the train to get there even though the drive is a piece of cake. I show up at the train station with my ticket, my bag and a hot bag filled with fresh Chipotle chips and a Chipotle burrito (for those of you that live on the East Coast, I pity that you haven’t met Chipotle). There’s only one track, so I’m just waiting for the train to come. There’s maybe one other person there waiting, but they are further down on the track. A train arrives at the time my train is supposed to be leaving at. So logically I get on. I ask one of the ticket people if this is the train headed towards SLO. He says yes, so I go to find a seat (looking back, I don’t really think he heard me and just wanted me to get out of his face). I sit down, ready for the train ride. About two stops later, a woman comes to take my ticket and tells me that I’m going the wrong way, I’m headed towards LA. So then I’m supposed to get off at the next stop. However, our train then stops for an hour because…there’s a dead body on the tracks ahead of us and the police are there investigating, so we have to wait. Once I finally get off at the next stop, they tell me the next train isn’t for another hour and then I’ll have to take a bus part of the way. I get off the train and get to the bus stop. The bus driver takes 15 minutes to come over to bus and I realize that I’m on the crazy bus. This bus is headed straight to Oakland, with a stop in SLO and another town or two. There is a freaking random assortment of people on the bus, all of which scare me. There’s one couple who is yelling at each other for the entire trip. So basically I force myself to stay awake until I finally get to SLO…about 4 hours later than I was supposed to (it’s a 3 hour drive to get there.) Worst part? My burrito and chips got cold and I lost my appetite. Sad dayz.

Anyways back to my weekend getaway. We get on the train, which was about a 2 hour ride. And it was so beautiful going through the countryside, it made me really excited for when Emilie is coming to visit and we are taking a train to her grandparent’s house. We get off at our stop and then have to figure out how to get to our hotel. We see that we have missed the bus, but we go up to the information desk and she tells us that we can just walk there. Wait, what? That’s how small this town is? Ok, sounds good to me. So we walk over to our hotel, across a river and right into the center of town. It’s so beautiful! And there’s a huge chateau in Amboise, which is really cool to look at and walk around. That day we end up going to the house where Da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life, which is so gorgeous. There is the huge house and then sprawling amounts of land and creek, with sculptures of some of his inventions all over. I felt like I was in Oregon or back east, the scenery is very similar. Then we walked around the town, got some presents for people and just enjoyed the area.

Saturday, Aleah and I met up with our friends Christine and Joyce who were staying in Amboise from Saturday to Sunday. We had planned on going to the Chenonceaux Chateau, which is extremely grand. It’s known as the chateau of the queens (because 6 famous/noble women lived there). Catherine de Midici is one of the more well known queens who lived there. There’s the chateau, gardens, a flower garden, a vegetable garden, a maze, the chateau is on a river, and of course…there’s a donkey park! It was kind of funny how all four of us girls were pretty much the youngest people there, I didn’t even really see any kids. All in all, it was just magnificent. It was so mind blowing to think that people lived in these castles. I mean, I’m down to own a shit ton of land, but I don’t really want to live in a big, stone castle. I’ll live in a cottage thankyouverymuch.

After that, we were all pretty tired, so after getting back to Amboise, we chilled along the river and just hung out and dozed. Our train was leaving at 7, so we headed back to pick up our stuff and walked back to the train station. On  our train back, I was SUPER excited because it had private cabins! Um Harry Potter much anyone? Ya I was pretty thrilled and kept pretending in my head that I was headed to Hogwarts. Yes, I am aware that this is what most 20 year olds do on trains. The train ride back was fun too, Aleah and I just talked a lot, I did impressions of the people in our French class, and we both talked about our parent’s upcoming visits (mine come TOMORROW and hers come next week!).

Basically, it was a really great trip and just fun to explore more of France. Only downside is I lost my phone charger. I even returned to the hotel to ask them to look for it, but they said they “didn’t have it.” There is apparently a need for iphone charges in the greater Loire Valley. I’m hoping to plan more trips within France and I can’t wait till I get to go visit Emilie’s grandparents. Where I will surely impress them with my red, shiny, rolly bag.

And tomorrow THE KRASNIGORS (minus Dillon, but really, he would just take an hour to walk anywhere, so it’s best we leave him at home for the sake of time management) TAKE OVER PARIS. I’m beyond excited to see my parental unit, mostly because they are bringing me a suitcase full of food, my pea coat, a pair of sweats, and A SPATULA. I’m also excited because this means I get to go out to eat and eat more yummy food. And watch my parents try to pronounce things in French, which will be pure entertainment gold. À demain!

The trees lining the walk to Chenonceaux

 

 

the vegetable garden

Chenonceaux!

The Amboise Chateau

A bridge on the land where Da Vinci lived

Proof the my aunt Tanya Beth Krasnigor lived in Chenonceaux and is one of the 6 queens the name refers to.

MY HARRY POTTER DREAMS REALIZED.

 

Trippin’ Thoughts

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I’m off on my first getaway tomorrow…to the Loire Valley! (please say the previous statement in the Price is Right’s commentator’s voice, it enhances it oh so much). I’m going with my friend Aleah and much to my enjoyment, I keep calling it our “romantic getaway.” She laughs when I tell people this, but I’m still undecided on whether or not she’s mostly laughing with me or at me. I call it this for a few reasons:

1. The Loire Valley is supposed to be a beautiful, romantic spot. Filled with castles, wine, a gorgeous river, and romantic restaurants. Therefore, our trip takes on an element of romance.

2. Originally when we were planning this trip, Aleah was in charge of finding us a room at a hostel or hotel (but in the Loire Valley, it’s a ROMANTIC hostel/hotel). She originally booked us a room with two twin beds. But then she got an email saying that it didn’t process and that her only option was to book a room with a queen bed. So, logically she did that. Ploy to cuddle with me? I think so. We later found out that she had reserved both rooms, but we ended up canceling the queen bed of cuddles for the twin bed option.

3. Aleah is one of the few other blonds in this program (shocking I know, since 99 percent of us are from California). But she’s like 4ish inches shorter then me. So when we walk together, we either look like an adorable pair of sisters or a lesbian couple (we also have similar wardrobe choices, so I think we look more like the latter). I asked her jokingly what clothes she was planning to pack, so that we could have matching his and hers outfits. I clearly think I’m hilarious.

Anyways, I’m really excited to go on this trip! Not only because Aleah and I will be meeting up with our friend Christine on Saturday and because the Loire Valley looks fantasmic, but because I think it will be a nice little introduction to traveling while abroad. In about two weeks my roomie and I are headed to Barcelona. And I’m a bit nervous for that one. But I imagine once the date gets closer and investigate and plan more (meaning figure out how to get to the hostel from the airport) I will feel better. It will be my first hostel experience (in a ten person room, no less). As I’m reflecting on why I’m nervous, I can diagnose the two reasons why. And they are due to the Krasnigor father and son duo:

1. Dillon has tried repeatedly to have my mother and I watch the movie Taken, which I REFUSE to watch. Are you crazy?? I still have nightmares with Golum in them and I have been fast forwarding through his scenes for almost 3 years now. Regardless, Dillon has (as any kind younger brother would do) put into my head scary thoughts about traveling, especially to a hostel.

2. My father emailed me a week or two ago to tell him the travel dates I had planned so far. I obliged and received a Keith Krasnigor email back from him. “Barcelona can be dangerous. Be careful.” I absolutely LOVE when my parents stay stuff like this to me. Why? Because all it does is instill fear in me. Also, when I asked my mom why they say that stuff to me? She said “to warn you, and so that when you are dead, we at least know we said all that we could and warned you.” So basically my parents just want to make sure they are fulfilling their “I told you sos!”

Despite those two very thoughtful comments from two very thoughtful family members, I am looking forward to going to Barcelona. BECAUSE I CAN NAP AND IT’S NORMAL THERE. Anyways, gotta go pack and do some more hw before my trip! I’ll be back Saturday night, so hopefully I’ll get a blog up Sunday.

Parade and a movie, Paris style.

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Wow this weekend feels like forever ago, time really does fly here. On Friday night, Diana and I went out for dinner to celebrate our being here a month. And the food was SO GOOD. I will definitely be taking my parents there for dinner. Or rather, they will be taking me…

Saturday. So we’re sitting in our room, doing some reading/hw and I feel like I hear a stampede. Um, excuse me, but what is that? A friend had mentioned earlier that there was going to be a techno parade in Paris, but I hadn’t given it much thought. Diana and I decide to go outside and see what exactly the noise is and if this is the parade we had heard about. I’m not even sure if I can accurately describe this parade. Techno parade doesn’t seem like a good portrayal, as there was trance, club music, and dubstep (shout out Santa Cruz!) as well. I’m 99.9 percent sure that most of you reading this have NO IDEA what all that music is, so just use your imagination. This parade consists of like 20 or so huge trucks with people on two different floors dancing, while a specific dj plays music. Each truck is decked out in their own theme, some more impressive than others (the one with LED lights? cool. the one with fake neon furry monkeys? You clearly had a shitty budget.) The music is so loud and you can feel it in your chest. Now along with each of these trucks is anywhere from 100 to hundreds of people following, walking alongside it, dancing. The majority of the crowd is the teenage population, but I saw ravers, older people, and people on the side just taking pictures and staring (Parisians like to stare. And they like to judge.). Kids are on top of bus stops dancing, there are some crazy outfits, booze everywhere, cigarette smoke for days, and all the streets are blocked off on the path they are driving. I imagine it’s like Mardi Gras, but with daylight and more clothing. It was really fun to watch and walk alongside.

After we hang out for awhile, we head back to cram in some more homework before going back out. Apparently the parade stops in this one place and then the djs each go to different clubs, where you can go and dance at. However, those clubs cost monies. Me no have extra monies. So Diana and some other people head out at night to try and catch more of the parade, but I had made plans with my friend Ilanit (she’s a Santa Cruzian as well). Our plans? Well they may or may  not have consisted of seeing Harry Potter in 3D. It started pouring, so it actually worked out well that I didn’t head back to the parade. Ilanit and I head over to the Champs-Elysees where the movie is still playing in theaters. We buy our ticket (and have to pay a euro for 3D glasses!!! I’m telling you, the *Parisians will sell you ANYTHING). Therefore I kept my glasses and will return to future 3D movies with them. Damn straight, I own those glasses now and I will get my money’s worth. We head into the theater, where we see on the first floor the “concession area.” You know, just filled with wine, beer, ice cream, paninis, candy and kettle corn. The usual. We head upstairs to the third floor to see our beloved Harry P. The theater is somewhat small and Ilanit goes to sit down. Now these seats have really high backs, but until she sits down, we never realize how low the seats are. Ilanit is a small girl and she just looks hysterical in the seat. I ask her if she’ll be able to see the movie. So we sit down and wait for the previews to start. I admit to her that I’m having a mild panic attack that we just spend money to see a non-English version of Harry Potter (you buy the tickets from a machine and therefore never deal with a person). We see some previews in English and some in French. The movie starts and sweet pearl, it is in English! Score for us. Although Ilanit tells me that they could never dub Harry and Ron, that would just be criminal. Which I would have to agree.

I feel like some other stuff happened on the weekend, but I can’t really remember. Whoops. That is all I have for you today, but this weekend I head to the Loire Valley (south of Paris, known for its chateaus)! And then come Monday, the Krasnigors take Paris! Maria and Keith will be arriving in Paris on Monday. To bring their favorite child a spatula, pecans, and various spices and to wine and dine her. Oh and to see Paris. I imagine I’ll have only a few photos to share from their visit as my dear Mother is bad at taking photos, doesn’t like to be in photos, and my parents have an inability to both smile at the same time, therefore there will probably only be photos of me.

*Side note: Every time I start to generalize about the natives here, I have to make sure that I say Parisians instead of the French. This is because Emilie and her lovely family are French and I never want them to be lumped into my French generalizations. So I try to make sure I always say Parisians instead. I do not want to slander the Mateu name (or Julie or Ronnie to stop reading my blog, I need all the readers I can get, let’s get real here.).

When hunger becomes hanger.

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Oy vey. I have been neglecting my dear blog, to which I (unsurprisingly) received an e-mail from Em telling me to basically get back to work (which I can only assume is an order passed to you from Mrs. Ronnie Schwartz, who is sitting by her computer with her trusty companion Skinny Gal, waiting for the next post to come out!). Yesterday all of our internet connections were down because of some fuse that was broken in the residence. Which was EXTREMELY frustrating for me. Why? Well because yesterday was a day filled with class, shopping (I didn’t really do the shopping, my roomie did) and walking along the Champs-Elysees, meeting up with my tea group from last week for more tea, and then attempting to get my laundry done (there is only one drier and two washers. And I only brought exactly 6 workout shorts, so don’t you be getting in my way of the washers!!!). Really what I’m trying to say is that I came home wanting to update my blog and watch a little tv and couldn’t all while being extremely hungry. Key word: HUNGRY. Which for those of you who know me, know that hungry quickly turns to HANGRY. And for anyone who is familiar with a Krasnigor, then you have A LOT of experience with this.

Finally I got to talk to Julie (my best friend who is currently studying abroad in Bologna, Italy) who has not had internet for two weeks. So she knew the pain I was in after less than 12 hours of no internet. The best part? She asked how I was and I simply replied “I’m hungry.” And all I hear is “ooooooh, I remember how that goes…” Which obviously means, “Oh you’re such a sweetie when you’re hungry and I wish I could be there to spend mass quantities of time with you!” Not.

And as for this weekend, it was on the busier side, both in Paris and at home in Simi Valley! My brosef moved into college! Woohoo! I’m beyond thrilled for him to begin that next chapter of his life and more importantly, I’m stoked to visit him in Santa Barbara. It was funny to talk to my parents about moving Dillon in because oh how the times have changed with the second child. First of all, on Saturday night, I was talking to my dad via skype (he’s REALLY into the video chatting, I think it’s only to make sure that I’m alive and have not added anymore facial piercings while I’m in Paris) and I knew that they were moving Dillon in the next day. So I asked him, “what time are you leaving at?” And he starts talking about how he has a meeting at 10, so probably at 7 in the morning. But Dill’s move in time was at 12, so I was confused. “Wait, what are you talking about?” “I was talking about taking your mother to the airport,  what are you talking about?” “UM, MOVING IN YOUR CHILD TO COLLEGE?” “haha, oh, whoops…” Clearly, my parents have the whole get the children out of the nest down pat. I even caught my mother starting to say, “Ya so on Sunday we’ll get rid..I mean move in Dillon” (she’s gonna kill me for posting that).

Also it was interesting to compare my move in to Dillon’s. Dill’s move in time was at 12 and he planned on being out of there by 1:15 for the Patriot’s game (I can just hear Grandpa, Uncle Brian and Tanya saying “atta boy”). Me? Yes I was trying to move in quickly, but rather because I was trying to put away/conceal all the shit I had brought college (I think my dad was shocked at how much Mom and I were able to fit deceptively into a few pieces of luggage). Moral of the story? I’m working on my pack rat ways and was somehow able to pack only one big suitcase and one bag for my 4 months in Paris. (Let’s not talk about the mini suitcase I’m having my mother sherpa on her visit to Paris for me).

I think I shall write two posts, mostly because I have no idea how to tie in my weekend with this post. Also, side note: I cannot take credit for the word hangry, even though I wish I could. Mom tried to make the word “hangired” (hungry+angry+tired) happen, but I wouldn’t allow it. Stop trying to make fetch happen, Gretchen (5 points to anyone who got that Mean Girls reference!)