Wednesday, February 26, 2014

That Day I Smacked A British Woman In The Face

Yes, it is true. Yesterday I smacked a british woman in the face.  First, lets start from the beginning.

France's school system is a lot like year round schools where they go to school for 6 weeks and then they have 2 weeks vacation.  Marseille is on vacation right now until March 10 so a lot of the things Cheri and I normally do are canceled.  With some extra free time we decided to take a mini vacation to Nice, France and to Monaco.

One thing I love about Europe is that you can get anywhere pretty quickly thanks to their train system.  Cheri and I got a good deal on round trip tickets to Nice and it is only a 2 1/2 hour train ride away! When we arrived in Nice we found out that their annual carnival was going on and that there would be a parade in the afternoon.  After dropping our stuff off at our hostel, we set off to explore Nice some more.  We walked to their fruit and flower market.  It was beautiful! There were so many different types of flowers that I wish I could bring home with me.

How cute are these salt and pepper shakers?

After lunch the parade was starting so we walked around towards the end of the route so we could see better.  All the kids were dressed up in some sort of costume (you would think it was halloween) and there were stands set up everywhere selling candy, silly string, masks, confetti, you name it.  Cheri and I wanted to take fun pictures of us throwing the confetti up so I went first.  I have picked up a hand full of confetti and waiting for Cheri to tell me to go.  Cheri is looking through her fancy camera lens and says go and as soon as I throw my hands out to the side I completely smack a woman in the face.  I immediately start saying I'm sorry in every language I know.  The woman (thankfully) was british so she spoke english and sort of laughed at the situation and said it was okay.  Her husband was chuckling as well and as I'm apologizing profusely, she asks if she ruined my shot.  It was obviously an accident but I am so thankful that she wasn't mad!

selfie on the beach

some of the floats were a little weird

Pretty sure these are supposed to be Putin

The picture Cheri got right before I smacked that poor woman

After Cheri and I laugh about the situation (and I immediately go, yup, gotta write a post about this) we explored Nice for a little while longer. That night we had dinner at our hostel (because it was only 2 euros!) and we got to know some other people staying here.  It was nice to meet people my age who are traveling from all over the world.  We all had fun stories to share and ended up staying up till midnight talking.

Next time I will tell you about our adventures in Monaco!  I hope you have a great Wednesday.

À la prochaine!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why I Started Running {Link Up}

One of my favorite bloggers, Amanda over at The Lady Okie, started a link up for runners.  This is a monthly link up with a different topic every month on running.  This month is why I started running in 250 words or less.

It sort of blows my mind that I am including myself in this link up because I never thought in a million years that I would ever label myself as a runner.  I started running because I wanted to run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge that NC State hosts every year. (run 2.5 miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, run back 2.5 miles) I only ate 1 1/2 doughnuts but I did run almost the whole way! 

After that (Feb 2013) I was done with running until later that summer when I became serious about losing weight & getting fit. Slowly but surely I started running more, especially with my friend Taylor, and running slowly became enjoyable.  I have a few health & fitness goals while I am here in France and keeping up with running is one of them.  Yesterday I ran for 30 minutes without stopping. This may not seem like much but considering a little over a year ago I could barely run for 5 min straight this is a huge accomplishment.  Running makes me strong and powerful.  I no longer dread it or see it as a chore. I actually look forward to running which I guess is what officially makes me a runner.

This is my view as I run here in France. Breathtaking, I know.

I hope to run in my first half marathon this fall - anyone want to run with me? Let me know!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! I feel like people either love valentine's day or hate it - I love it. I think it is great to share how much you care for people, whether you're in a relationship or not. Yes, you should show how much you love people every day but sometimes it is nice to have a special occasion to go out of your way to show how much you care.

Here are some highlights from my week:

1) This sunset. Oh my goodness I am in love.  Cheri and I went down towards the beaches for the first time since being in Marseille and the timing could not have been more perfect. A sunset with a sailboat overlooking the Mediterranean sea? Breathtaking.

2) One thing that I didn't pack that I wish I had? A light jacket.  I brought a pea coat, a hoodie and my rain jacket but I didn't bring any other type of jacket with me.  The grocery store next to my apartment is much like an Aldi grocery store. This week the theme is hiking and outdoors so they were selling jackets. I bought this jacket for 9 euros.  Pink would not normally be my first choice but it is so soft and it was exactly what I was looking for.

3) Erin over at Love, Fun, and Football posted a recipe for a pizza quinoa casserole a few weeks ago and I decided to test it out. It was delicious. Don't be afraid to cook quinoa (even if you're not sure how to pronounce it) it is super simple and extremely healthy. The recipe can be found here.

4) It seems like almost everyone in Marseille has a dog. Dogs are allowed just about everywhere - including the metro and some restaurants. The one place I have seen with a sign that says no dogs is the park across the street from my apartment.  I am not sure why dogs aren't allowed in the park but everyone follows the rules.  The other day while running I discovered one animal (besides the roosters that are everywhere) that is allowed in the park - a pony. Not quite sure where the pony came from but it definitely made me smile.

best picture I could get while running & trying not to be too creepy

5) Today for Valentine's day I have a hot date with Cheri babysitting our supervisor's kids.  Exciting, right?  Probably going to have some pizza and watch a disney movie.  Our other supervisor did buy us macarons today which was very sweet. (mine was chocolate caramel banana - sorry, I ate it too quickly to take a picture!) In all honesty if I were at home I would probably be babysitting for a different couple so it is all the same to me. I love being able to help out others so they can enjoy time with the ones they love.

No macaron picture but here are some of the other desserts this bakery had!

How are you spending your Valentines day? Single or taken I hope you tell everyone important to you how much you love them!

Je t'aime!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vieux Port

Last Thursday God blessed Marseille with an absolutely beautiful day.  It was 60 degrees and sunny with only a few clouds in the sky.  Cheri and I had some free time so went ventured down to Vieux Port (Old Port) to explore.

Fun fact - Marseille was founded around 600 BC making it the oldest city in France

The port played a huge role in Marseille's economy - trading and fishing. It also brought in a great mixture of people & cultures.

That church at the very top of the hill? That's Notre-Dame de la Garde, arguably Marseille's most recognizable monuments. This church is visible from almost every part of the city and overlooks the various ports. The people here in Marseille see Notre-Dame de la Garde as the guardian & protector of the city, often referring to it as "the good mother." 

Marseille was the European Capital of Culture in 2013

I can't wait to see what this view looks like when the trees are in bloom!

M for Marseille or M for Mary Beth?

This couple made my heart smile.

The more I get to explore this city, the more I fall in love with it.  I wish that everyone could be here with me to experience it's history, culture, and beauty but since that is not possible I hope these pictures give you a glimpse of what it is like.

à la prochaine!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Olympics!

The Olympics are here, the Olympics are here! While I enjoy the summer olympics 10x more than the winter (after all, it is the one time every 4 years that people like to pay attention to swimming), I am excited whenever the Olympics come around.  It unites our country to pull for fellow Americans and it is also a chance to look at these athletes and think "man, I wish I could do that." This year will be different for me since I am in France - I do not have 24 hour access to a tv like I would at home so I am not sure how much I will actually be able to see. However, I was able to watch most of the opening ceremony last night. Here are a few of my thoughts on the Olympics so far.

  1. Combining two of my favorite things, fashion and sports, I am always excited to see what Ralph Lauren designs for the US Olympians to wear in the opening ceremony.  I personally loved this years look.  Some people said it was too patriotic, "too America", but I say it is the Olympics.  At what other event or time do you want to represent your country more than at the Olympics?  Not to mention the fact that those sweaters looked really comfortable.  

  2. I have a slight feeling that Sochi wasn't ready for the Olympics to begin.  Having read through numerous tweets and articles from media and other people there, I know I am not alone in those thoughts. Russia spent $51 billion dollars on the olympics. Yes, that is billion with a b.  With all of that money (and it's not like it was a surprise that the Olympics were coming - they have had years to prepare) it is hard to see what exactly Russia has been doing.  I thought the opening ceremony was pretty cool, and I liked that as the athletes walked out their country was lit up on the floor underneath them.  The one big flop from the ceremony was the rings. 
  3. My favorite part of the ceremony besides Team USA you ask? Easy. The Russian Police Choir singing "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk.  You could just believe me that watching this video can take any bad day and make it better, but you might as well just watch for yourself. (note - this video is not from last night, but from a few months ago.  I think it is a better recording to fully grasp the awesomeness that is the Russian Police Choir. Apparently they have done covers of many other songs including Skyfall by Adele.  BRB going to watch it now!)

Perfect timing to end this post, I just saw that USA has won it's first gold! Congratulations, Sage!

What did you think of the opening ceremony? Do you like the sweaters that Ralph Lauren designed? Leave me a comment & let me know!

à la prochaine!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It Had to Happen Eventually

Do you ever have those moments where nothing seems to be going the way you thought it would and all you can do is laugh about it? That was the situation for my roommate Cheri and I tonight. Let's start from the beginning.

Earlier today when I asked Cheri what she wanted to do for dinner she suggested going out to eat.  Sounds great! We haven't gone out for a meal in a few days and having been in Marseille for a week we could obviously handle ourselves.  It would be no problem. So at 7 o'clock Cheri and I left our apartment to walk to about 5 minutes to Castellane where there would be plenty of restaurants to chose from.

Castellane, via
As Cheri and I start walking around we aren't quite sure what we want to eat but first we need to find places that our open.  As we wander around we read a few menu's that restaurants have posted outside of their doors and we aren't sure where we want to eat because we can only recognize a few items off of each menu.  (I know a little French and Cheri knows even less)

We finally come across a pizza restaurant and figure, why not, at least we will understand what we are ordering (what a silly thought to have).  Cheri and I see no one in the restaurant from the door but we do not see any hours posted so we walk in.  We walk through two empty dining rooms before we see 3 men sitting at a table (which we came to realize later that they were staff eating dinner).  A young man hops up and asks us something in french and I just respond with "Oui!" and he takes us to our table.  At this point we were questioning ourselves if we were even supposed to be in the restaurant because no one else was there.

As we read through the menu we realize that there is at least one word in every description of the various pizza's that we do not know.  We decide to just go for it and then we wait and then we wait some more.  Were we supposed to go up to the bar and tell someone we were ready to order? Was someone going to come take our order? We were seated to our table so the thought would be that someone would come back but as the minutes tick bye we question ourselves more and more.  I am making random eye contact with the bartender hoping that he can see in my eyes that we don't know what is going on or that someone should come to our table.  (Did I mention that the same 5 Amy Winehouse songs are playing on repeat the whole time?)

Eventually a different man came to take our order.  I ordered my mozzarella pizza while Cheri tried to order one called "La Mama." That poor waiter.  He tried to explain to us why Cheri could not order said pizza, even started using hand motions, but alas it was no use.  I think he eventually saw our utterly confused faces and Cheri just ordered what I got.  He asked us what we wanted to drink and I responded (in french) with water.  I thought I knew how to pronounce water but maybe I don't because he looked at me with just as a confused face as I was just looking at him with.  I said it a couple different ways, even in english, and eventually he understood.  At this point Cheri and I were just laughing to ourselves about how ridiculous this evening has gone.

My pizza came with olives - not sure how that happened. Cheri's did not come with olives. We ordered the same thing.

As we were listening to "Rehab" for the 4th time and we were finishing up our pizza I realized that I wasn't going to finish all my pizza but I waned to take it home with me.  Neither of us wanted to eat the whole pizza, or leave it behind, but we did not know how to ask for a box.  At this point I texted one of my supervisors asking for the right words and thankfully he responded right away.  When we asked for our check we also asked for a box (simply showing our waiter the text message so there would be no confusion).  The waiter took our plates away and I thought how nice, they box it up for you here!  A few minutes later this is what was brought back to us.


At 8:30 Cheri and I had paid the check, said thank you to our waiter, and started the walk home.  Did our evening end up the way we thought it would?  No, but honestly I'm not quite sure how I imagined it going in the first place.  Thank goodness our French will get better the longer we stay here.  Every day is a lesson and we survived today and got a few good laughs out of it as well.

à bientôt!