Monday, 21 May 2012


We did it - my mom, sister and I all finished the Copenhagen marathon yesterday! No need to discuss our times, or the fact that we spent the remainder of the day in a zombie like state, the important thing is that we all got it done. Both Mom and Keeley were running with significant injuries so I am so proud of their perseverance! Now very glad to have that over with so we can focus on more important things, like Danishes, ice creams, and relaxing in beautiful parks. This evening while doing post-marathon research I came across the story of Team Hoyt - the father/son duo who have to this date competed in over 69 marathons and six Ironman triathlons. Dick pushes, pulls, and carries his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, over the entirety of the competitions. Not only that, but he does it hella fast (their fastest marathon time was 2h40min - that is a really, really fast time for any individual, but while pushing another human being for the entire 42 km that is unbelievably amazing)and they only started when Dick was 37 after Rick told him that he felt like his disabilities disappeared when they ran together. Definitely one of the most inspiring pairs I've ever heard of. If you're interested, look them up on YouTube (I can't seem to share the link because I'm inept with this iPad). We are all absolutely in love with Copenhagen so far, the weather is beautiful, the people, lovely, and the bikes are fabulous. When can I move here?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

visitors and a last week in paris

This week I've been trying to cram in all those things that I've been meaning, planning, trying to do and just haven't gotten around to yet. I visited Centre Pompidou and loved the Matisse exhibit showing his pairs and series of paintings (not so much the modern art), the Maison Européenne de la Photographie for contemporary photography and was enthralled by Paulo Pellegrin's photos of seemingly every modern crisis, sipped mint tea at the Grand Mosque of Paris and checked out the fascinating photosensitive façade at the Institut du Monde Arabe, finally made it into  Notre Dame, and spent an afternoon in the lovely and newly renovated Musée d'Orsay. Today, a morning visit to my local market and an evening at the Bastille Opera house for Romeo and Juliet and like that, my time to myself here in Paris is at an end. Tomorrow morning my Mom and Sister will be here and we'll be going to Copenhagen, Stockholm and back to Paris before I head home to Calgary on June 1st. So excited for their visit and our trip but I can't help but think that time is flying by a bit too quickly! It seems it's going to take me a while to get caught up on photos...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Normandy II

We stayed overnight at a gîte in a traditional farmhouse, and visited Honfleur in the morning before the tourists were in force. Honfleur has a really gorgeous central harbour, with slate-shingled houses and cafes all around, and a beautiful hundred-year-old carousel. This is the place from which Samuel de Champlain set out for Canada in 1603. 
After visiting Honfleur we went to a brocante (flea market) where we did some shopping and found a few treasures to take home in my overstuffed luggage. Then we went for a walk in the countryside to see the traditional farmhouses with thatched roofs, and of course, see all the farm animals as well.
Geese in France are not at all friendly. Maybe something to do with foie gras?
On the top of the thatched roofs they plant irises whose roots help keep the roof tightly woven. They were just starting to bloom, but I bet in a few weeks the rooftops will all be covered with flowers.
Such a white little calf! Must have been very new.
These cows were flirting with a bull in a pasture on the other side of the road. Too funny to see them eyeing each other across their fences.

We drove back on Sunday afternoon in time for Michel to vote in the final day of the election. Even though the weather was overcast and cloudy for the most part, I loved seeing the countryside and towns of Normandy, definitely a place I'd like to visit again. 

I just arrived home this evening from a weekend trip to Edinburgh to meet a friend. Such a beautiful city! I left this afternoon with very windblown hair and a newfound appreciation for whiskey - pictures to come.  

Friday, 11 May 2012

Normandy I

Over the past weekend I had the chance to go to Normandy and visit Rouen, Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur over two busy days with the family friends who hosted me during my search for housing at the start of the semester. It was so nice to see another part of France, learn something of its history, and ride in a car (of course, I couldn't help but fall asleep and miss some scenery). We started out early on Saturday and drove to Rouen through cloudy skies and the threat of rain. Rouen is famous for its hand-painted faïence pottery, is the site of Joan of Arc's execution, and the birthplace of France's newest president, François Hollande.

After wandering the streets of Rouen, we drove to Trouville and Deauville on the coast. I became a little bit obsessed with Trouville, and I'm already saving for my future summer home... such a beautiful location, long pristine beaches, interesting architecture, lots of great restaurants around the harbour, and only a short drive from Paris.

The beach houses were amazing, all lined up along the coast with a mix of French and English architectural styles - I wish I could have spied inside them all to see the interior. Seriously, I'd take any one of these. Attainable, right?

These long, slender shells are called couteau (knife) in French. Michel told me that to catch them, you spot their breathing holes in the wet sand when the tide is out. Then you put a bunch of salt at the entrance of the hole, which makes the creature think that the tide is coming back in and it literally jumps out of the hole. I wanted to try it, but we didn't have salt. Also, they're apparently not that delicious. Walking on a big pile of their shells did, however, give a very satisfying crunch.

I think someone was planning to vote for Sarko.
The fresh seafood market was fantastic and filled with all sorts of interesting shell fish. Now I know what a scallop (coquille Saint-Jacques in French - what a great name!) really looks like. 
Fresh seafood at Les Vapeurs along the harbour. Fried river fish and mayonnaise to start (I don't really know what these are called), and then freshly caught sole in a whole lot of butter, and tarte tatin (a kind of caramelized upside down apple tart) with an entire pot of thick cream for dessert. Probably the most fattening meal of my life. But so delicious.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

School's out forever? 
Finished my last exam here at Sciences Po and though I still have one online course to finish up before officially graduating, I'm already mourning the end of my lengthy undergrad experience. Hopefully that is just for now and I'll have a chance to go back to school in the future. In the meantime though, I'm getting excited about the next stage in my life wherein I (fingers crossed): 

a) earn actual money
b) continue to learn new (and useful?) things
c) no longer have (unfinished) homework as a constant source of guilt

Three cheers for a month off until it is time to join the real world back in Calgary!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


fernweh: (german) wanderlust, a longing for distant places

Even though I'm far from home, I'm still obsessed with the possibility of travel, of seeing different spaces, architecture, hearing a foreign language spoken in the street, trying strange and delicious new foods, struggling to decipher the mysterious nuances of public transit, meeting strangers who call the place home. Maybe it is just the prospect of trying to find a grown-up, post-graduation job with the accompanying, inevitably limited, vacation days that is making me anxious, but these quotes are inspiring me nonetheless.

Traveling out grows its motives. It soon proves sufficient in itself.
- Nicolas Bouvier (seen here)        

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.
-Freya Stark (seen here)

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes opened.
- Jawaharal Nehru (seen here)
 (I'm a little obsessed with Nehru after one of my classes this semester)

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..
- Mark Twain (seen here)

And if you ever needed proof that travel is about the journey, not just the destination, you should watch this TedTalk about one man who took public buses from Washington, DC to Antarctica.