Monthly Archives: October 2011

Vimmer cheeks servin’ me well.

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This is just a short little post. Today I was on my own in Munich, so I rode one of Monika’s bikes to the S-Bahn where I hopped on the train into Munich. For the S-Bahn, the tickets are basically honor system. You are SUPPOSED to buy a ticket and SUPPOSED to get it stamped, but as you can imagine, that doesn’t always happen. Thankfully studying abroad has helped my previously stunted directional skills and I am now really good at reading maps and metro maps. So even though I SPEAK ABSOLUTELY NO GERMAN (where there are lots of different letters that I don’t recognize and an abundance of vowels; ex-Äßµ), I managed to get to the city center. I walked around a lot, saw some great sights, ate some roasted chestnuts (oh yes, am all about those delicious thangs). I have now learned that in every city there is inevitably a Zara and an H&M. Now they sometimes sell different things, but essentially the same. I am undecided on whether or not to buy something from an H&M in each city…

Despite my lack of German speaking abilities, I thankfully blend in no problem. I am in the land of many blonds, but really (and this is what makes me most happiest), I am in the land of the Vimmer cheeks!!! Now only my mother’s side may understand what I am talking about here, but let me attempt to help you. Imagine my face, if you recall it is a round face. And on that face I have some jowly cheeks. Well I am not the only one with those sweet cheeks here.

Later, I cooked dinner for Monika and myself. Yesterday when I was with Monika, Andrea and Anna (Andrea’s oldest daughter), we rode around a part of Munich, over to a castle and then to the Olympic Hall and arena (which was so huge and really cool to see). Andrea said to me, “What you must think of us…we always talking about food.” Clearly, we are related. Which was only reinforced when tonight Monika and I discussed how if there is a bit of food left, we just eat it rather than save it because, well, why not?

Another funny thing is just talking to one another. Monika speaks english very well, Andrea speaks it fairly well and Anna I think understands and can speak it well, but is reluctant to do so (which I understand, speaking another language can be scary and\or if you’re me, you speak in simple sentences like a 5 year old). We have a book that can help us translate words, which has been really funny. I told Andrea that Anna was spunky and then we found that word in the dictionary. And then when Andrea was describing her mother, she had to use the dictionary to find a few choice words to describe their relationship which was so entertaining as she kept saying, “there are so many words to choose from! this is fun!”

Overall having a great time, besides being sick (damn you immune system, we were doing so well!). Tomorrow we go to Andrea’s farm, where I have insisted that she teach me how to milk a cow. I’m sure I’ll have some good stories because Andrea’s husband and two other girls speak no english. Thank goodness for hands!

Also, as a side note and partly in response to Aunt Vick’s recent comment on a post: family members, I have been trying to tell you for a long time that I am really entertaining and hilarious. I know it has taken me going half way across the world and starting a blog for you to realize this, but I think I was 4 when I decided that I was really fantastic and funny and that all of you should listen to me all of the time. My inner 4 year old just wanted to say this to you family.

Spotted at the airport

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Observations from mz 7 hour loungin’ at the airport.

1. Every french person has the same suitcase, just different colors. The suitcase always has those tricky four wheels so that it can be rolled in any direction and it’s always just small enough to be a carry on.

2. Ok you know when you’re at baggage claim and you see that one suitcase that has been shrink wrapped a thousand times? I am here to tell you that that piece of luggage probably belongs to a european person. Because they LOVE to have their bags wrapped. How much do they love it? There are several stations around the airport where you can pay to have it done (9 euros, which to me is a big commitment, you REALLY have to want that shrink wrap).

3. All french children have more style than a fashion magazine. Fo reals, these kids are mini models and always have the most adorable outfits on. I want to be a kid again.

4. The Charles de Gaulle airport sucks. Real bad. The layout is just terrible. I saw so many people walk past me several times in confusion, trying to figure out where to go. It’s just not clear at all. Also? There are birds. Yes, you heard me correctly, THERE ARE BIRDS IN THE AIRPORT, just hanging out and flying around.

Oh and just a note here: I am using Monika’s computer and therefore her keyboard, which has a different layout than ours, so if you spot some typos, now you know why.

A marathon to Munich

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I AM IN ZE MOTHERLAND.

That’s right, I have finally made it to Germany. Remember how in a previous post I mentioned my FANTASTIC luck?? Especially when it comes to travel? Well let’s just say that today was another page in that book. Here’s how it went down. To begin with, Air France decided to postpone their strike and begin it today! Woo perfect timing, go me. So after consulting with my travel agent (my father- who to add to that list, is now my negotiator for housing), we decided that the best plan was just to get to the airport really early and get onto whatever flight was available. That meant no sleep in for me, waking up early. I get to the metro station and of course as I’m running down the steps, I miss the metro and have to wait for the next one. Now in the grand scheme of things, that wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely an omen. Once I get off at the stop where I pick up the RER (more like a train, takes you outside of Paris and to the airport), I get on the wrong one. Get off at the next stop, go back to where I initially started. Keep in mind that NONE of the escalators are working, so clearly I’m shfitzing for days. So then I’m waiting for the right metro. And waiting. And waiting. And then we find out that the RER that takes you to the airport isn’t running. So we have to take a different RER and then a bus to the airport. Once we get to where the stop where we get the bus, there is a huge line to get on the bus and metro workers are handing out apple juice, water, and crackers because apparently having the RER out of commission is worthy of dipping into the rations. The bus then takes us to the aiport, terminal 1. But I am in terminal 2, so I have to take another train to finally reach my destination. Where it takes all of 5 minutes to tell me that all the flights are booked and I am still on mz 355 flight. Ok. cool. Chillin at the airport for 7 hours.

And THEN…our flight gets delayed. But those Air France people are crafty, they just continue to delay the flight in half hour incriments. And the best part is we can all clearly see that there is no airplane at our gate, just absolutely nothing there. Eventually they bus us over to a different Air France flight and then ultimately, we board! In comparison to my seat companions, who were coming from a South America vacation and had already spent a day and a half of traveling, I really can’t complain.

And now, I am here, in Munich. To fill some of you in, I have this entire week off from school. And a while back, I got a bee in my bonnet about going to Germany. My mother was born in Germany and my dad lived in Germany with his family for several years in his late teens (Grandpa was in the airforce). So I have a connection to Germany and realized that I wanted to visit. So (thank you Opa!) now I am here in Munich, currently staying with Monika. And tomorrow I will meet Andrea and her oldest daughter. Monika and Andrea are my mom’s cousins, but I have just been referring to them as my aunts for simplicity. I landed when it was dark, so I haven’t seen much yet, but tomorrow we are touring Munich and going for a bike ride.

I am not sure how frequently I will get to posting as this is supposed to be a vacation after all, but I will try my best!

All I want for X-mas is…tupperware?

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Clearly I’m not in the mood to study, as evidenced in my previous post. But that’s good news for you because you get two posts in one day! But this one will be brief.

What have I done today so far? Well first I went to the marché. Thankfully, most Parisians enjoy sleeping in on the weekends, so even though I got there at 10:30, that was still a bit too early for my neighbors and there weren’t many people there, which was great. I realized something though…we are EXTREMELY pampered back in the states when it comes to produce. Not in season in the US? Doesn’t matter, you can still get it! Not in season in Paris? Say goodbye! So there go all the wonderful fruits and here come the apples, citrus, and lots and lots of root vegetables. Also abou 127 varieties of potatoes. I don’t think I realized how many different types of potatoes there were. The one thing I was extremely excited to see? BRUSSEL SPROUTS! REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!

The other thing I have been doing? Let me preface this with this change in weather has me seasonally confused. I have totally been in the Christmas/Winter time spirit. I have watched several Christmas movies, listened to various Christmas songs, and…making several wishlists on different sites. Usually I never do that, but I whenever Christmas rolls around and relatives ask what I want for the holidays, I always forget everything on my mental list. So I decided to just start making wishlists. But I just looked and most of the things on my list have to do with baking, cooking, tupperware and warm clothing. I’m telling you, I should really have white hair at this point. But another reason those things are on my list are because I really miss tupperware! Oh States, how the simple things make me miss you. Public toilets, tupperware, ziploc bags, ice, and ovens… But time is really flying and yesterday marked my two month countdown until I am back in the states. It is really amazing how quickly time passes by.

Ok that’s all for now, I need to go force myself to study, study, study!

Gobblegee in Paree

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Weekend before midterms means studying for midterms right? Wrong! Unless you are my father or grandfather, in which case I mean “oh yes! lots and lots of studying! And dad, this post just contains boring details about my studying, so you have no need to read any further…” Well instead of mass amounts of studying, yesterday I went to the Salon du Chocolat! Amazingness.

So a group of us decided we would go to the Salon du Chocolat yesterday, which a 5 day chocolate exposition (I suppose you would call it an exposition?). There are demonstrations, a chocolate fashion show, all kinds of chocolate vendors, chocolate sculptures, amazing pastries, chocolate liquor (had no idea there were so many chocolate alcohol brands, but then I had to remember that Parisian’s blood is actually just liquid chocolate). First of all, I knew about this event back in September. I’m such a food nerd and love to check out a whole bunch of food blogs and ex-pat french blogs. And I forgot that going on a Saturday would mean that every french person and their maman would be there. So of course we had to wait in a long line. I had to give my group a reminder that we were in Paris and what do Parisians love to do? Cut lines! If they can, they will. I may or may not have been forceful in holding my position in line.

Finally we get into the exposition center, which is interesting in itself because living in Paris, you forget that such things like convention centers exist. A few of my friends in our group were so surprised, they had just assumed it would be outside. We made our way to buy our tickets and then finally got onto the main floor. The second you walk inside, you pretty much smell chocolate, it is what I imgaine ole Mr. Wonka’s place smelled like. There are just a bajillion booths, many giving away free samples. So what did we group of college students do? We scouted out the free samples of course! It reminded me of when I used to volunteer to go to Costco with my parents just so I could eat all of the free samples.

I don’t think I have described some of my friends before, but for the purpose of this explanation, you just need to know that 95% of them are shorties. Whenever I walk around with Maddie, Lindsay, Ilanit, and Aleah, I feel extremely tall. In everyday life this is not a problem, however, at a crowded convention? Problem. Thankfully Christine and Aaron are both taller than me, so we thankfully were able to stay together for the most part. It is astounding the amount of things that can be created with chocolate. I really wish that I could have just bought everything to share with all of you, however, I still have two months to go. There were other really cool things to see as well, there was a huge booth of spices and teas, where I got some killer tropical tea (I have become even more of a tea fiend in Paris, thanks to Mamie Gateaux). I also might have bought myself a charm bracelet that has little dessert charms on it…

I did find some cool stuff to give to my family when I go to Munich next Saturday. To fill some of you in, we have a week off after midterms, so pretty much that’s when everyone in my program does big trips. I decided that I wanted to go to Eastern Europe and e-mailed my Opa to see if I could stay with his nieces, my mom’s cousins. Luckily for me, they are extremely kind and opened up their homes for me to stay for a week! Monika, one of the sisters, lives in Munich and Andrea, the other sister, lives on a farm with her husband and three daughters. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this trip. Anyways, I know Germans happen to have a sweet tooth, so I picked up some goodies for them!

After the chocolate show, I headed straight to a book signing. I have been waiting for this book signing since I got to Paris. The author? David Leibovitz. If you don’t read his blog, YOU SHOULD! He’s an expat, a former baker at the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. His website has helped me find out about countless French restaurants, cafés, baking supply stores, given me recipes, etc. And I LOVED his book, it’s one of the reasons I was so excited to study abroad in France. His book signing was at this adorable little place, Sugarplum Bakeshop, run by other expats. They were handing out free hello dollies, pecan pie slices, brownies, and COOKIES! Do you know how long it has been since I have seen a chocolate chip cookie?? And while waiting in line, I met this really great girl, Tessa, who is studying at the Sorbonne and from Michigan (she was originally born in Toronto Uncle Sean!). We chatted about our experiences so far, traveling, having our parents visit (hers were coming soon), and of course…the foods that we missed. In case you still haven’t gotten the memo after reading all of my posts, it always ends up back on food. I didn’t get the nickname Gobblegee in my family for nothing (yes, it’s a really great nickname, I know. My dad originally wanted me to have my blog’s title be ‘Gobblegee in Paree!” which probably would have been more apropos).

Finally I got to the front and got my booked signed! He was nice, but it was crowded, loud, and there was a huge line behind me, so we didn’t chat long. Despite my imagining us chatting all about Paris and me charming him with my wits, I only spent about 2.3 minutes with him. Oh well, I got a picture out of it!!!


Chocolate market


chocolate sculpture


chocolate sushi!!!

Me and David Leibovitz! Clearly he’s super stoked be taking a picture with me…

Can I add some pumpkin spice to that?

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This week has gotten seriously cold! Definitely fall season progressing into winter season. I happen to really enjoy the weather, especially because is transports me back to the East Coast, with the changing leaves and biting cold. I may have been too eager for the seasonal change, as I just might have already watched 2 Christmas movies… Also I have been adding pumpkin pie spice (thanks Mom and Dad for bringing me that!) to all of my coffee… Although it still doesn’t replace a Starbucks pumpkin spice latté. I think at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if I started adding pumpkin spice to my eggs, to flavor my vegetables, even to my water. My latest favorite game to play with my friends is to talk about all the fall/winter baked goods that we miss. Diana and I decided that when we go out to dinner 80% of our conversation ends up back on food.

Speaking of food, last night Diana and I went to a hot pot place last night! Hot pot, for those of you who don’t know (which I didn’t until a week ago), is when each person gets a pot filled with a soup base (vegetable, spicy, meat, etc.) and then you choose what type of things you want to cook in the soup. It’s basically like fondue. You get sauces and spices that you can add and can flavor your own fondue pot. Incidentally, my dad just sent me an e-mail from Japan last night and he ate the same type of thing! It was really fun, especially because I got to try different vegetables and tripe (which I now love). I keep telling Diana that living with her is helping me to learn more about Asian culture while I’m learning about French culture! Hilariously, I was the only American at the restaurant (which is a good sign, it means you know the food is good). Even better? I was THE ONLY BLOND WHITE PERSON. I pretty much stuck out big time, it was great. However, this was the first time that I have ever had to speak up in Paris to hear the other person I was with. It was a great night, except I burnt my tongue because I was too eager to stuff my face with yumminess.

Surprisingly with the cold, we have only encountered more mosquitoes or mosquito-type bugs. On Monday morning I woke up with three Mt. Vesuvius on my face. Oh yes, they bit my face. I looked REAL cute going to class that day. So we’ve had to shut our windows and I have worked on my ninja-like reflexes to get better and smashing the bugs. I’m proud to say Kelsey-8 Mosquitoes-0 (since I have started my mosquito man hunt).

Also with the cold, I have now discovered that EVERY Parisian person owns a trench coat. So now I feel like I’m in a murder mystery and everywhere around me is Inspector Gadget/Inspector Clouseau. Parisians love fall because it means the simple addition of a trench coat to an outfit.

I have also learned that there is ALWAYS construction going on in Paris. Even if it looks like there is no need for construction, well you’re wrong. There is. You can’t walk down a single street without encountering construction. But what I enjoy watching is the Parisian people, who are so curious. Right now on the corner of where my school is, there’s construction occurring on one of the entrances to a big Monoprix (grocery store), with a big tarp covering the construction. I have lost count of how many Parisian people slyly poke open the corner of the tarp to see what is happening.

Today I’m off to the Salon du Chocolat and then it is study, study, study because I have midterms next week!!!

possible strike. act now.

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I’ve been neglecting my little blog, I realize. But with the weather getting all cold and wintry/fall like, I’ve been going out to hole up in various cafés to read, do homework, or enjoy some warm tea. School has also been getting a bit more intense, as we have midterms in a week and then we have a week off (where I will be going to Munich for a week to stay with family- who I’ve never met before.) On top of school work, I’m now trying to find a place, so that I’m not homeless when I return to Santa Cruz, although I think I could rock the cardboard box. Looking for a place has introduced me to Craigslist, which really isn’t that bad. For some reason I had an irrational fear of Craigslist. I blame it on my mother. And just my luck, Airfrance (which I’m planning to fly to Munich for my week off) will be going on strike during the time that I’m supposed to fly out. Oh and I’m trying to finalize dates and plans for when Emilie comes to visit me at the end, so it has been a flurry of emails, stress, and planning! However, I was able to enjoy Paris this weekend, as I hadn’t been able to wander and explore in a couple of weekends. I’ll just share a couple of highlights from this weekend.

I finally got to try the soup place that I’ve been wanting to go to for awhile. Originally I had wanted to take my parents there because my dad loves soup. One of the reasons he loves soup is because you don’t really share soup. I imagine this has only been enhanced by him marrying my mother and having to share many a meal with the Kohlers. If you have never eaten with the Kohler side of the family (myself included on this habit), we really enjoy trying each other’s food. Often times though, we stick our fork into your plate before you’ve even had a chance to stick your own fork in your meal. Poor dad, but we Kohler clan are foodies and didn’t you always teach me to share? Anyways, the soup place was FANTASTIC! It was so comforting to have some warm soup, I had this killer squash soup that I probably could have eaten five more bowls, but then I would have judged by the Parisians around me. Even better? The soup place does togo! A small miracle. And it’s right near my school, so I can pick up soup whenever I’m in the mood.

Also not surprisingly, our dorm’s single washer and dryer are broken! As I had already waited a little bit longer than usual to do my laundry, this morning I found myself on my last pair of underwear and socks. So alas, I had to go to the laundromat. I filled my biggest suitcase (I’m telling you, I was in dire need of doing laundry) and rolled on down to the laundromat. First off, I want to mention that since having been here for two months (CUHRAZY!), Paris has definitely rubbed off on me. How? I put on realpeopleclothes and dressed to go do laundry. Which means a lot considering that I could live in sweats if that were socially acceptable. However, much to my surprise…I saw 3, count ’em 3, people in sweats doing their laundry. However they were extremely trendy sweats and they were still accessorized dashingly.

This weekend was the Festival Bastille. Which you would think means festival type stuff outside where people can go and partake, non? Well, on Friday we went searching for the alleged Festival, which we could not find. So later that night we looked online again and found a concert and comedy show at specific places. First we went to find the comedy show. We went to the bar where it was supposed to be held and wouldn’t you know it…it wasn’t there. Ok, no biggie, let’s go to the concert. We get to the venue for the concert. Also not occurring. I had to remind myself that this is Paris and there is absolutely no guarantees here, just because it says it’s happening online, doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen. If the musical group just wasn’t feeling it, then they don’t play. That’s how it goes. But, on a positive note, we did pass the fruit sculpture demonstration, where this really nice chef was carving these amazing fruit sculptures. And plus it was a beautiful night, so we walked around a bunch and explored the area.

Can’t believe that I’m almost two months away from the end of my studying abroad experience, it goes by so quickly! Although I would like to take this time to say one thing…people, why have none of you sent me ANYTHING?! No letters, no postcards, no care packages. This girl in my media class received a box that looked like her family sent a small child in it, it was that big. I also have seen more packages filled with doritos and cheetos than I ever imagined (apparently people miss this a lot). With the exception of Nana and Grandpa (this just proves I’m the favorite grandchild…), I have received nada. WHERE IS THE LOVE PEOPLE? All complaining aside (which I am just so DAMN GOOD AT), a little letter or two would be nice. Just a hello or some pictures. My walls are bare and I would love a photo or two. Otherwise, I shall take a note from the Air France people and my blog will go on strike. Look at me, I’m more Parisian than I thought!