Sunday, August 30, 2009

A lesson on how to be flexible

Up until about 1am last night my plans were going along just fine. Nice for three nights then onto Florence. Perfect. Then I got a text from my couch surfing host saying that he couldn't host me tonight after all but suggested another cs friend i could stay with...15 mins outside the city centre. Not so interested in that... So thats when I decided to stay an extra day in Nice and go on the party boat this afternoon and make a day trip to florence tomorrow. So I wont get to see nearly as much as i had hoped to, and if i cant get a decently timed train from genoa to florence, i may just head straight to rome. For those of you that know me well, you'll know that this lack of a plan is driving me crazy, but it is a good life lesson, and is teaching me to go with the flow. So here I go...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Only sort of looking forward to tomorrow...

Pretty quiet day here today. Didnt end up going out last night and slept for 11 hours instead...clearly I needed it! Went to the perfumerie in Eze and got a new scent! As well as souvenirs for people back home...dont take it to mean i think you smell bad! much of the rest of the day was spent figuring out my next stay and its logistics. The trains are pretty full because every one in france and italy are on holidays. So now I have to take a train from Nice to Vetimetia (or something like that) to Genoa to Florence. Itll be a long 10 hour travel day (boourns!) Then I had to confirm my accomodations. I will be couch surfing for the first time (although i have hosted a couple times already) and needed to find out from him when/where to meet. Turns out I get in at 10pm, but hes not around until 11pm so we'll see how that plays out...hopefully well! Hence the title of this post: im looking forward to seeing new places and continuing on my journey, but it will be a long and stressful day Im sure! My plans tonight have changed...i was supposed to go on a party boat cruise...all you can drink in the middle of the sea for 5 hours. But they pushed the date back til tomorrow night, you can imagine my disappointment! So Ill be meeting up with some girls from the pub crawl the other night at about 12 30...I think before then I will pack up my stuff so I can just wake up and leave tomorrow. Thats called being efficient! I hear its quite chilly back home right now. I sure hope it cools down here...Im sweating more than I did in Thailand, which I never thought it would be possible!

Friday, August 28, 2009

5 cities and 2 countries in 3 days!

Let me start off by saying that I am being forced to type using a french keyboard which is annoying because some of the key letters have been moved, so i will be forced to look at the keyboard while I type and still go back to correct bear with me! Anyhow, Ive been quite busy these last few days. Of course I started in Paris, and from there I stopped in Lyon for a few hours. Thank God for storrage lockers at the train station! I was quite surprised by Lyon. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting of the town, but it wasn't what I found. What I found was much better! I spent most of my time in Viex Lyon, wandering the streets and visiting the Notre Dame church and the outdoor roman style theatre. I had received an email from my work shortly after i had left with a message from my boss saying that Lyon is the gastronomic centre of the world. I can just hear him saying it now. I didn' t have time to eat there and I know he will be disappointed to hear it. After collecting my luggage again, it was off to stay in Marseille overnight. I arrived around 730, which is apparently the time that things in the city start shutting down. I had to go to a few places before I was able to find a room, but eventually I did. Just something basic, but it did have a shower and sink in the room. Toilet was down the hall others think that is weird too?? After settling for a bit, I decided to go out and grab dinner and maybe a drink at a local bar. But I had to find the internet first because mom would be worried about not hearing from me that day. I looked for a couple of internet cafes but every one was closed...not very traveller friendly if you ask me! Anyways, I had a bite and a drink at a pub and then walked around the harbour area. It was really nice. I was debating about going to Cannes the following day, as I hadn't really seen much of the town I was currently in, but decided to do it since I wanted to spend a day lounging on a beach and the beach isn't right in Marseille. So it was an early night then off to Cannes the next morning! Now I knew from pictures Id seen and from what others had told me that the french riviera was beautiful, but wow! It was just spectacular! I decided to make the most of it, splurge and rent a lounge chair on the private beach rather than stick to the chair-less, parasole-less public one...totally worth it! Sun/shade, beach/surf what more could I want? They even had waiters who would bring you drinks, and when I ordered a bottle of water, it came in its own ice bucket...fancy! Sadly, all good things must come to an end and I had to peel myself away and train it to Nice. Like the rest, Nice is a really pretty town! I found my way to the hostel, dropped off my bag wandered around the town a bit and had dinner. I had asked the hostel staff about possible pub crawls that go on in town and found out they had one going on that night. So I made my way to the pub where they started and joined the group. What a night it turned out to be! At each of the bars we got a free shot and we also did shots in between the bars! Pictures to come...needless to say I was in MUCH pain this morning! It didn't help they lock out hostel guests from 11 until 3. Ugh... So I tried to make the most of it and went to Monaco. Its only a 40 minute bus ride away with an incredible route that hugged the coast line. When I first got there, the bus dropped me off at the Monte Carlo casino which is really something! Even the cars outside are amazing! Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Maserratti (sp?) from there, did more wandering and finally made it to the palace where i took a train tour of the city. I know you're supposed to tour the city when you first get there not just before you leave! but anyway, it was still nice and i learned more than just walking aorund myself. When I got back to Nice, I was exhausted to say the least. But I still forced myself to do more sightseeing in the form of street wandering and had dinner. There was talk of going out again tonight, but Im not sure my poor old body can handle it. But then again, how often am i in southern france??? We shall see! So thats my latest update. I hope all is well...keep those emails coming!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A very full day indeed!

Since my last post this morning, I have been all over the city! My feet are killing me! But it was a day I would certainly call a success considering I only have a day in the city. I had to start with a short nap though to recharge. But as of 3pm, I hit the streets. I wondered down to the Hotel des Invalides, which I still have no idea what it is...but it looks pretty. Followed by the obligilatory stop at the Eiffel Tower. I tried at least a dozen shots before I actually got a nice photo with me and the tower (I am just horrible at the self shot, and there aren't very many good photographers in tourist form.) I then walked along the Seine river then tried to find my way to the Arc de Triomphe. The key word in that phrase being "tried". Now, I consider myself to have a good sense of orientation and can read a map really well. Paris though, is a whole other ball game. I can't figure these streets out. You start off on one street and continue straight and the next thing you know, according to the map you've made a turn. Not only that, but half the streets aren't labelled. It's really quite annoying. So I caved and took the metro two stops. Yes, I've been able to master the metro, but not the streets...go figure. So after seeing the Arc, I took myself out for dinner along the Champs de Lysee (sp??) Nothing too fancy, but I made sure to avoid the McDonalds restaurant. From there, I went to the jardin des tuleries (another sp??) where I relaxed by the pond, followed by a wondering to the neighbouring Louvre (didn't go in as I had already been there, and didn't feel the need to see it again). From there I walked up to the Opera for a short email check in. (yes, I'm addicted, so keep sending them!) At that point, dusk had started, so I decided to head to see the Eiffel tower at night (which is really the only thing I REALLY wanted to do in Paris) and then head back to the hotel as I was really tired. That was my plan. I saw the tower lit up and it was lovely. But I still wanted more. Leslie had been bugging me to go to the catacombes, and while I didn't want to go in, I figured standing outside would suffice. I got on the metro to head over there, when I saw it: the Eiffel tower twinkling in a million lights, as if lit by diamonds. I had to see it closer so I got off at the next stop and ran towards it. Sadly, by the time I rounded the corner to see it again, it was over. I had noticed two other girls doing the same thing I was doing, so I went over and asked them if they knew if or when it would happen again. They didn't but based on the time, we figured it happened every hour on the hour. They told me they were planning to meet with some friends under the tower to have some bread, cheese and wine and asked if I would be interested in joining. It sounded like too much fun to pass up, although my feet disagreed. It was a fantastic time! The two girls I had met due to our mututal attraction for things that sparkle like diamonds were from Australia (Naomi and Katie), while their friends were from Sweden (Anton, Philippe and Markus), South Africa (something that started with an H that I couldn't understand) and Spain (Christina...I didn't ask if that was her middle name and if her first was Vicky or last was Barcelona). I definately felt like a world traveller drinking with random strangers under the tower. How much more Parisian does it get than that?? So, that's been my day. Now, I get to take my tired feet back to the hotel for a much needed full night's rest, ready to start again tomorrow. Until then!

Bonjour Paris!

Here I am, finally in Paris! When I arrived at the Ottawa airport yesterday, it was still unsure if I would be able to get a seat on either flight out of Montreal. Things were looking pretty tight. When I arrived in Montreal, my mom told me that I was 20th on the list of standby passengers...out of 20 total. Luckly, there was 20 seats left! Now, I don't know if it's really because my mom pulled any strings (probably more cause she's a nice lady and if her colleagues knew her nice daughter was travelling, they'd want to do something nice for this nice lady and her nice daughter) or if it's because I'm just really lucky when it comes to these sorts of things, but I ended up getting a seat in business class...executive class...whatever you want to call it! I was thrilled to say the least! Not only did I get the fancy treatment excutive class brings with it, but they even had the fully flat beds!!YAY! So I had a nice dinner, watched a movie, then slept...fully streched out...for a full 5 hours! Customs was uneventful, the baggage claim area, a bit crazier. So many people in such a small space all wanting the same thing - to get their bags as quick as possible. After dealing with a few annoying people, I got my bag and headed for the train to bring me to the city. Another uneventful event. Once I got to my first metro stop, I had to transfer stations. I had thought that I could transfer stations underground, but, since I wasn't able to find any indication where to go, I asked a lady who told me to go outside for the next station as it was only a short walk away. My first sight in Paris after leaving the metro: Notre Dame. Not too shabby! After asking two people for directions to the metro station, I was able to find my way to the hotel. Wasn't able to check in as it was too early, but I dropped off my bags, covered the dark bags under my eyes and left to see the town. First stop: the local boulangerie. I had to get petit pain au chocolat - a baguette with chocolate chips in it. Paris is the only place I've ever seen it (and trust me, I've looked in every bakery I've been in since I was last here in 2001!) So, I can now check that off my list. Next up, I wanted to find an internet cafe to update every one and let them know I'd arrived safely. After asking at least 10 people and walking for a good 30 minutes, I finally found one! Impressions so far? The city is more romantic than I remember it. There are restaurants and cafes every where and all of their patio chairs face out on the street to encourage you to watch the world pass you by. I feel really funny speaking french here though. No one seems to understand I that rusty?? One guy actually said "Oh! Un petit accent!" Next up for my day, get to the nearest train station to make a reservation for my trip to Lyon tomorrow, then...who knows? It's Paris!

Monday, August 24, 2009

T minus...

...three hours and ten minutes, or one hour and ten minutes depending on your countdown. I'm out of the office, and officially on vacation, as of 1pm today to head off to the airport to catch a 3pm flight to Montreal. A few hours of waiting and visiting with my mom (who works at the YUL), then I get to find out if there's room for me on the Montreal-Paris flight for tonight! I checked the flight loads this morning, and while economy is currently over sold, there are still a few seats in business class. Here's to hoping I'm lucky enough to get on the flight...and extra lucky enough to get business! That would be sweeeet! They even have those fully lay flat beds! Wouldn't that be a great way to start my trip! One could only hope... So long as I don't get a middle seat between screaming kids, I'll be happy! Next update will either be from Paris, or Brownsburg while I crash at my mom's and try my luck for a flight again on Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In the beginning...

Ok gang, here we go again! Another trip, another blog. I figure this is still the best way to keep every one up to date on my adventures around the globe, but since I'm now living the single life, I had to start up a new one! In only a few short days, I will be travelling to Europe for two and a half weeks. Since I wll be flying stand by, I found out tonight I will have to leave a day earlier than anticipated because the flights are looking a little full on Tuesday. During my trip, I plan to visit France (Paris, Nice), Monaco, Italy (Florence, Rome, Venice), Liechenstein, and Switzerland (Interlaken, Lucern, Lausanne, Geneva). Since I have an extra day, I now need to decide where to spend it....I think it'll either be Lyon, France or Luxembourg (another country checked off the list that way!) There's still much to do (like pack) and so little time to do it in. Best get on it!