Do you like quick and to the point stories? I sure do, I know you have lots of other blogs to get to, possibly some cat videos or buzzed recipes. I get it. So here we go! October 29, 2015 maybe it was the 28th, I don't remember. Kelli and I left Sandpoint, ID for Minneapolis, MN on a four day road trip.Read More
In my 35 day trek in Europe I started shooting strangers. Which in theory seems easy. But once someone sees you, they tend to keep seeing you. And a language barrier is enough to make things awkward. Or I'm just a pussy. Enjoy the photos.
Beer and New Friends
I'm going to start this post with a story about some two rude american backpackers we came across (from California, go figure). Bros, if you will. We started up conversation since we were sitting right next to each other and both were leaving Barcelona. We had to take the regional trains due to weather flooding a bridge that our high speed train would have taken us through. He asked where we were headed to and we responded with Nice (neese like geese) and he followed with "I hate to correct your pronunciation but its nice (n-ice like the english word) laughed uncomfortably and we never spoke again. He was wrong.
A few minutes after a lady b-lined it to me speaking Spanish, I used the few words I did know to try and tell her I don't speak Spanish, but I think I told her "Yo no hablas espanol" which is wrong and she probably thought I told her "I dont you speak spanish" or something so she kept going. I finally just said "yo no se" and she walked away. At the end of the trip the train stopped as the Police boarded to check our passports. Rude boy number 1 began spitting out Spanish like it was his second language. I never would have guess. Thats what I get for assuming. I guess I'm wondering how he didn't know how to say Nice and yet is all cultured with his Spanish. And he didn't help the lady spitting out Spanish to me when he clearly spoke it well. We thought it would be fun to speak english with some fellow backpackers but turns out they are still Americans. You can interpret that however you like. They made me mad. MOVING FORWARD
We had another extremely long travel day and yet again arrived late in Nice. We really don't like that doing that, but we haven't quite found our groove. The food in France that we could afford or at least know what it is was typically bread on bread with some bread on the side. Don't get me wrong, I love me some bread, but not for all three meals. The second we found our hostel, Hostel Smith, located in old town Nice. We quickly ran back to this Indian restaurant that caught my nose. It was so nice to eat food with flavor! I can't express that enough. Luckily old town had just about every culture of food readily available. We were pretty tired so we only walked around for a little bit wondering the tiny alley ways, observing a mass of what looked like twenty sixteen year olds all with alcohol headed in the same direction. Walking with purpose, We were too busy eating to jump up and follow just out of curiosity. We never did find were they went.
The next day we woke up early like (still) and nothing is open (still) we did find a bakery (more bread) and I managed to order a vegetarian sandwich, which was and accident, and a chocolate croissant, (even more bread) I know you are suppose to embrace the lifestyle and the whole 'when in rome...' thing but I'm gluten intolerant, and lactose intolerant, and for those who don't believe in the gluten thing tell that to my intestines and my inflamed organs.
Quick note, when two people wear only like shew gear the entire time people don't stop starring. I tried looking up what shew may mean in other languages because of the looks we get. Or its the Sanuk shoes, the French must think we are dirt poor. I guess thats a good thing. But at least they could stop starring in my soul and judging.
Once Nice, finally woke up we ran into an Australian bunk mate who recommended we go see the painted windows in the square (i don't remember the name) and he was right, they were awesome. They had painted on shadows so at night it actually looked like real windows. We had read that Nice is full of antique stores and art so went out looking for precisely that. We ended up finding a pub along the port had drank what we call exploring juice (beer). Some pubs, you ask for beer and they just bring beer with out you even choosing. Others you have two or three options. I found that interesting. Unfortunately, Heineken is everywhere. I'm spoiled with craft brews I suppose.
After our exploring juice we went on a walk down to the coast to see the beach and the view. From far away you could literally see that everyone was tan, not a white body on that. The south of France is serious about their tans. We got a little lost but found our way to another little cafe. We wanted some more juice and decided to try a platter or appetizers. We ate octopus, and liked it, it wasn't chewy from how I remember. It was their Mediterranean plate and it was delicious. I wish I could remember what we ate. You will find out later why my memory is so foggy.
After some grazing we went on a hunt to antique stores. Finding some pretty amazing stuff, some I can't say because they are gifts for the family, but I did find a gem for me! A 1930's Longchamp briefcase for 50€. Such a score! It's beautiful and I'm obsessed with it. I have a bag problem. Coats and totes as my dad always says. Another thing about bags, everyone has an Eastpak backpack or any variation of a Longchamp bag. I can't express how often I've seen them. Now I want and Eastpak backpack... I'll find one.
Next, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and decided to go get dinner, we had passed this seafood restaurant and figured we had to try seafood so close to the ocean and in Europe. We got a platter that had oysters, snails both large and small, really tiny shrimp maybe it was krill, clams, octopus and maybe a couple other things. I had tried everything except snails and since I had a pretty good buzz going and well when in Rome or I'm this case Nice, I had to try it. A friendly German, named Olof helped us eat the snails. They looked disgusting but tasted so very normal. They were about 3/4 inch long with the shell and came out all twisted. It was slow food as he called it. We ended up conversing for the remainder of our dinner. He was on business and discusses other countries cultures, asked what we did for a living, shared his knowledge. We took a picture together actually like 4, that was his doing, and exchanged e-mails and phone numbers, and went on our way.
I lost count of my beer intake but the night gets fuzzier from here. We stopped at the Irish pub right by our hostel and sat outside with a fellow at a table. It was right in the heart of Old Town so lots to see while drinking. Kelli, being Kelli, she made conversation with our second friend, Hovnatan. He is a theater actor currently living in Nice, but flys to Paris when he needs to. He said the acting is more Shakespeare with heart and passion and less action and comedy. He told us Ethan Hawke saw him perform and said this is what I want he wanted to do. He is Romanian but is born in France. We spoke of politics and Obama like most foreigners want to discuss. We chatted for quite some time before he left, also exchanged emails and phone number. By then I should have gone to bed. Instead, we see some Australians and for some unknown reason flag them down and they pop a squat and by us a round of beers, Luke and let's say Brian. We shared a mutual feeling for the French people and our lack of understanding them. We shared some laughs and drunken slurs...
Then I woke up with a headache and swore off alcohol the rest of the trip. We will see if that holds up. Nice was a lot of fun, and I would definitely go back, so many different types of neighborhoods and so much to offer. Two days wasn't enough but I'm happy to be out of France. Off to Switzerland!
The Land of Bread and E-Cigs
It was surprisingly nice to see a city that was somewhat familiar. I had been to Paris back on 2007. Being 17 I really didn't appreciate it as much as I would now. I still don't understand the French, both figuratively and literally, but it really is a magical city.
As we arrived we had strict goals, find a wifi restaurant because we were both starving yet needed the Internet to find a hotel or hostel, and grab any and all information on trains departing from Paris to plan our next excursion. We walked for about 30 mins before we found an empty wifi Japanese restaurant that seemed like they had good food. I knew we were in the right place when I used my hands to show how big of a beer I wanted and the hostess did the same gesture. I proceeded to make a bigger gesture and she laughed and did the same. It was the most expensive Japanese restaurant in town I'm sure of that, but the stress of finding somewhere to sleep was more important. It was about 7:45PM while we sat and finally found a place on hotels.com. I think I ate pig vertebrae and some other weird food but since she couldn't explain it to me I didn't really care.
It started to rain during dinner so we suited up with appropriate gear and headed to our hotel. This was tricky and confusing, tricky because we don't have cell service to look up directions to our hotel and confusing because we did and it worked the entire way there on airplane mode. I guess I don't u destined technology as much as I thought I did. It was by far the longest walk yet and our bags had never felt heavier and it's only day 4. Uh-oh!
Did I mention our one bedroom hotel room has two different bathrooms. What? Dope?
The land of e-cigarette stores and scooters. We decided that staying two nights in a city is good amount of time. As I mentioned earlier how heavy our bags felt, we made the executive decision to ship half of our stuff home. We had spotted a FedEx so we knew where we could do that. Sad, but necessary. Most campsites didn't cater to the EuRail so we were limited on transportation to the campsites other than walking and let me tell you how sore I am. I knew this was going to happen but you don't really know until it happens. So we basically paid a million dollars to have them shipped to California. Thank the baby Jesus for FedEx accounts. Our packs are still heavy but my back and collar bone feel so much better.
After we took a two hour walk (we still don't know why it took that long) to ship our goods, we were finally able to explore. I recreated some photos I took back in 2007, we stopped at 3 different cafes to grab some beer, finally got my Croque Madame (for those who haven't heard, this is the best grilled cheese ever, simply because they put a fried egg on it, and ham inside) we walked to the Arc De Triumph, and mastered their metro system. Really wish we could have mastered it sooner to avoid the 3 hours and 9 miles we walked. It's in the past now.
We sipped beer along the Seine with a view of the Eiffel Tower, watching people either run by or walk by dressed to impress. I love how well dressed everyone here is. I think Paris is the origin of Hipsters. But the right kind of hipsters, still entitled and trendy, but it seems as though it's more natural. No offense Portland, you are still hipster capital USA. Do people work in Paris? I see people going places but never going into places. Their bike system is awesome. We had intentions of using them but slightly intimidated on where to return them. And if people didn't rent bikes they owned a pretty dope one. Along with bikes everyone had a vape pen, or e-cigarette, and stores for them were about as popular as Starbucks in Seattle. I still can't believe how many people smoke in this city. Everyone must have cancer right? It made me want to smoke, they all looked so cool doing it.
That's about the nicest way for me to describe Paris. I wish I had more nice things to say, but to be honest Paris is just eh' to me. I can appreciate it from a distance. Won't be needing to come back. I prefer small towns in Ireland where the people acknowledge your existence and don't have a permanent RBF (resting bitch face). Sorry Paris but I'm out. Off to Barcelona! Where my Spanglish will help us get by. I actually really enjoyed saying Bojour and Merci and even Oiu Oiu but that was the extent of my French vocabulary. Let's hope taking 4 years of Spanish in high school pays off. And by 4 years I mean I took Spanish 1 three times (because of 3 different schools, and two states) and Spanish 2 once.
One last thing I still haven't found a digital watch. Must be a faux-paw in France.