Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, everyone!!!! And I promise a real entry is coming soon - I have so much to update about! :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vegan Voyager: Neuchatel, Switzerland

I've been so caught up with my book blog and reading and writing and preparing for NaNoWriMo that I haven't updated this blog in a very long time. SORRY! I am once again behind!

So, a few weekends ago, I took the very last vacation of what ended up being my extraordinarly LONG vacation time.

Guillaume, some of his friends, and I headed over to Neuchatel, Switzerland, which is right across the border from France, to celebrate La Fete des Vendanges with one of his friends that lives there.

Lovely view from their house

La Fete des Vendanges is basically a festival to celebrate the fact that grapes are harvestable for making wine. Which in no way whatsoever means that people sit around together and drink wine. The opposite almost.

Neuchatel, population approximately 33,000, is a very small city. It closes down it's streets for three whole days and has a sort of fair. There are booths everywhere in which you can find every type of alcohol (although I don't think I ever once saw any wine available) and every type of food (except for maybe vegan food) available. There are all sorts of rides and fair games and lots of cute little tents selling fun things (like at a street fair). During the day there are parades and at night there are random float things that drive around shooting balls of confetti everywhere.

We are covered in confetti!!!!

And, because Neuchatel is so small and people come in from all over Switzerland and all over France, it ends up being COMPLETE CHAOS!!!!

During the day, it was fun. We walked around by the lake and watched a cool parade and got to experience the city. There were far too many people, but it was survivable.

A couple parade pictures!

The night, however, was not my cup of tea. We were there for two nights - the first night we went down to the festival, and I left after about an hour or two because it was just too claustrophobic. There were SO MANY PEOPLE everywhere that I could barely breathe, and most of them were drunk and over half of them were smoking. I tried to have fun, occasionally stopping to dance to the music with the others. But there was just too much cigarette and too many lame drunk people and not enough space to move, much less breathe.

Needless to say, I did not return the next night when they all went out, instead opting to stay in and enjoy the much more Audreyesque activity of reading. I had a great time, they had a great time, all was well.

So, even though I wasn't the hugest fan of the festival, I had a great time, and the part of Switzerland we were in was BEAUTIFUL! I am really glad that we decided to go. I could definitely see myself living in a cute little small place like that. (except that it is so small that no matter where you live, you tend to live right by the train track, which I wouldn't love).

On the drive back, we got to stop in Besancon for a bit to say hi to Guillaume's grandmother. It was lovely.
All in all, the weekend was a success!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character

So I was reading a post over at My World about on of her favorite fictional characters.

Well, the character this week just so happens to also be one of MY favorite fictional characters. Possibly my favorite of all time. A couple years ago, I dressed up as her for Halloween. And NO ONE KNEW WHO I WAS!!!! That might be a slight exaggeration. There were maybe two or three people who knew whom I was. . .after I told them.


Unfortunately the left one is blurry. Sorry!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rachel and Josh (and then Josh arrives)!

(except the very last one)

So, after the graveyard, we headed back to my apartment to wait for the imminent arrival of Josh!
Upon his arrival, we decided to take a walk over to the Bastille to get smoothies.
We went to Wanna Juice, and Josh got this weird basil smoothie that he claimed was one of the best smoothies he'd ever had.

Josh and his smoothie at La Bastille

We continued on a nice walk down the Canal St-Martin and got to see one of the boats being let down on the boat stairs thing. Very cool!

Canal St-Martin

The next day was mega touristy day! We saw Les Champs-Elysees and L'Arc de Triomphe.

Us at L'Arc de Triomphe

The we headed over to the Eiffel Tower.

Me and Josh at the Eiffel Tower

One of those Eiffel Tower pictures that just has to be taken!

Josh had been amusing himself making things look miniature, and he managed to make the Eiffel Tower look like a mere trinket.

Look how small it is!

He also was having fun with double exposures and made it look like a carousel horse was eating the Eiffel Tower.


It was really cool because there was some rollerblading thing going on right in front of it, so we got to see some awesome rollerbladers doing some awesome tricks. I was mega impressed!

How rad is this?!?

Then I left them to enjoy museums without me (as I have been to so many of the museus here so many times; I just couldn't bring myself to do it all over again).

Unfortunately, I don't have Rachel's pictures for the next two days, and Josh's pictures aren't dated. My memory is for days and times is fairly bad, so I don't really remember WHEN we did what we did.
I know that we rented bikes (Velib!) and rode over to the Marais. We got delicious (but unfortunately slightly overexpensive) falafel at L'As du Falafel. Man, I love that place!
We took a quick ride around L'Ile St-Louis and discovered some pretty cute shops.
Then we rode around the Latin Quarter = St-Michel and saw the fountain and manoeuvred our way through all of the cute little strees.

Cool miniature of Notre Dame in Notre Dame

Hanging out in the Marais with a very cool store behind us

Rachel and I rockin' it on a bench on L'Ile St-Louis while Josh ate his lime basil sorbet and took pictures!

The other day, Rachel and Josh headed over to Versailles. I had already been (twice or maybe even thrice), so I decided to skip out on this time. I ended up doing absolutely NOTHING and so probably should have gone with them.

Their last day, Josh was unfortunately not feeling so well (the day before in St-Michel we were getting smoothies and this crazy woman was coughing herself to death right in the ridiculously small store. She was getting snot all over her arm and hacking out her lungs practically in our faces. So incredibly disgusting! I am sure we all got a little sick from it), but we headed over to Sacre-Coeur/Montmarte nonetheless.

Josh and I in front of Sacre Coeur

We went up to the top (it was a LOT of stairs) and got a pretty incredible view. I don't know how I had never gone up before.

View from the top

Josh and I at the top

After we walked around a bit and got to see this cute little French band playing. Not really our style, but VERY French.

Other than that, we had fun eating in delicious restaurants (La Victiore Supreme du Coeur; La Reine Shaba = deliciously wonderful Ethiopian food that still doesn't quite replace Ras Mesfin, the place where I always go for Ethiopian food that seems to have closed down; Loving Hut; Tien Hang; and Audrey's kitchen!) and playing cards and Dr. Mario chez me.

Rachel and Josh weren't in love with my New Kids on the Block poster. :-(

And then they had to leave. And vacation was REALLY over. Sort-of. ::sadness::

Rachel and Josh Visit (the just Rachel part)!


Okay, so when I say that the vacation was over, it wasn't really. . . only for Guillaume. :-P
Because a week after Guillaume went back to work, Rachel and Josh came to visit!!!!

Well, actually, I guess I should say Rachel then Josh came to visit. Josh had some issues getting here, so I ended up having a full two days with Rachel before his arrival.

And very full these two days were!
On Sunday, we took a day trip out to Giverny, home of Monet. We saw

his house and

tons of beautiful flowers!

Rachel tried to take a picture of me with a plant mustache,

but it failed.

Audrey and Rachel in Giverny

On Monday, day two, we took a trip over to Senlis to see awesome Gothic architecture!

This is awesome Gothic Architecture!

The beautiful town of Senlis!

And then we headed over to the neighboring town of Chantilly to take a tour of the castle there.

The Castle

We didn't go in, though, instead just exploring the gardens, which were huge and awesome!

Audrey and Rachel in the gardens!

There was also a section of really cute little houses

Me knocking on the door of a really cute little house

right before the entry way to a really awesome maze that we almost didn't get out of - you were supposed to collect clues along the way to find codes to get through 5 doors in the maze. We didn't collect clues and had to find other creative ways to get through the doors.

Us being other people at the end of the maze

Interesting Fact: In French, one of the words used to say whipped cream is creme chantilly. I THINK that this is basically an extra rich whipped cream (I can't be sure, because I don't eat the stuff!). This word came from the fact that, supposedly, back in the day, the cows living at the castle made extra super duper awesome whipped cream. And it therefore became associated with Chantilly.
It's weird, though, because now it's like the name of the town is Whipped Cream.

Tuesday morning, Rachel and I took a morning jaunt over to check out the cimetery Pere LaChaise before Josh's arrival. We had time to take a pretty good tour of it, and I actually FINALLY got to see Oscar Wilde's grave. I'd looked for it before but, despite thinking I had already seen it, I had apparently never found it.

Oscar Wilde's Grave

You see, covered with kisses like that - I would totally remember it.

And then Josh arrived.
TBC in the next entry! Are you excited?!? I hope so!!!!