Monday, March 29, 2010


This is a compilation I made from some videos I took in Tarragona the weekend before last. Pretty interesting ceremony. At first I was shocked to see them dressed in white robes but it is all part of their pentanance rituals.

This website describes in more detail the procession:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 34

La Vida en Rose!

Sorry I´ve been MIA on the blog for a while, but my computer has been not feeling too well. Here´s a rundown of my recent adventures in France.

Last weekend, we made it over to Barcelona where I finally got to sample the liquid chocolate goodness I´ve been dreaming about. We went to a Chocolatier called Mauri with amazing window displays. As you can see, Easter is quite a momentous occassion here and they go to great lengths to decorate.

Here you can see two different chocolate displays to purchase, the Simpsons, and below the Smurfs. They can cost up to 300 Euros (approx $450+).

Saturday night, just an hour south in the small town of Tarragona (where Roger´s mom grew up), we witnessed an exceptional Easter parade that displayed a much deeper and darker side to the approaching Catholic event.
Notice his hand. (will post better pic later)
These hoods are worn as a form of penetance.

Yesterday, I also completed my first level of French class. I am now able to give directions, invite someone to a party, movie, dinner, etc., as well as make hotel reservations.  Level two starts April 2nd.

Roger and I also closed on our new abode for the next 10 months which we will move into Wednesday. We are so excited about being able to settling into a nice place to call home after a month in this dorm-room-like hotel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I got notice from Lonely Planet that a photo I submitted was approved for one of their contests.
along with this blog, but that's last week's news.

Jen's visit is fast-approaching, less than 7 weeks. I know it may seem far off to some but I know that it will be here in  blink of an eye. My head is turning as I try to figure out how much we can see in just 8 days. Paris is covered, we will be meeting there on May 7th... the question is where to next?

We considered London but then we wouldn't have time to get over to Italy which is at the top of both of our lists to see. I'm a huge fan of Lonely planet so I consulted the site to get some opinions on the hot spots for this May.

1 Barcelona, Spain  Spain's Mediterranean jewel sparkles with its Gaudí and gourmet delights, a buzzing waterfront scene and 2000 years of history. See our list of Barca's festival highlights.
2 Edinburgh, Scotland August is festival time in Scotland's bonniest town; take our tour around the various venues, or just walk around town for a couple of days.
3 Rome, Italy  Seat of the Empire and the Church, a phenomenal concentration of history, monuments, style and energy. Italy is also an adrenalin fiend's wonderland.
4 Paris, France The big ticket items of Paris are plentiful and varied - try an authored highlights list to whet your appetite.
5 Prague, Czech Republic  Be enthralled by this Bohemian fairytale, where a thousand spires and a Gothic cathedral are

Our friends Karen and Nate will be traveling to Prague the same time that Jen is out here but I don't know if the C.R. is where we're envisioning ourselves on the momentous trip. It did make the #5 spot however and will be hosting one of Europe's biggest musical festivals at that time as well. Edinburgh is well-deserving of the #2 spot, it's quite fascinating. Side note: my french teacher met her husband there and has one of the coolest accents ever when she speaks english, and was telling me just today that JetWay flies direct from Lyon for 40 Euros. I don't think the town is just exotic enough for the current mood. Barcelona was a possibility but not enough time to get Jen on there this trip.
So by process of elimination, we have Rome and then the third potential spot will be Nice in the south of France which is like this amazing oasis to me right now. Crystal blue waters, white beaches, flip-flops, cold drinks, mmmmm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 24

Today's song is So Lonely by the Police. I'm not so lonely but this song reminds me of Barcelona because both of my trips there I've ended up dancing to this song with friends of Roger's. We leave Friday to go back for his dad's birthday, fingers crossed there are no strikes this week. I Heart Barcelona!

Carmen from the Canary Islands, Mariu from Venezuela, and me at a birthday party one month ago.
We used an ipod app later that evening to see which one of us had travelled the farthest to come to Spain.
I barely squeeked out a win over Mariu.

Somehow this awesome video makes me think of Jen's trip out here in May. Running amuck in Europe by trains, planes, and ... buses. I can see walkie talkies in the near future too! Right now I think my eyes are bigger than my stomach as we try to fit in all the places we want to go and see. How will we ever do so much into just 8 days?

Meanwhile, back in reality I'm throwing myself into a French crash course as I scour the internet for apartments. I've already attempted looking at all the sites that are in English, and I'm sure that they're mostly scams. So now I've found a couple really great prospects and I will jump on the metro to see if I can further my search using what little vocabulary I've got. Sometimes I'm not sure what language I'm speaking, it's like my very own megamix.
....and as my french and spanish improve, I'm certain my english is getting worse. Dios mio!
I'm off now, Wish me luck!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top Chef

Rarely I find something on tv here that I can follow but tonight Top Chef was on, the french edition.
These guys are the creme de la creme of the new generation of culinary masters.
This episode tonight happened to cut the Lyon contender, Gregory,  out of the competition.

He's no ordinary chef though, his left arm stops just below the elbow. He's pretty amazing to watch and bears a striking resemblance to Dane Cook ironically.

Gregory Cuilleron : un dîner plus que parfait chez Georges Blanc à Lyon - Le Figaro
Lundi soir, en direct sur M6, Grégory Cuilleron remportait la finale du combat des régions de l'émission un «Dîner presque parfait». Le jeune Lyonnais de 29 ans, qui travaille dans la communication, ne s'arrête pas en si bon chemin et après s'être dévoilé en exclusivité, se prépare pour une autre expérience. Grâce à son parrain, Georges Blanc, il rejoindra vendredi 16 octobre dès 20 heures, les fourneaux du Splendid, l'établissement du chef aux trois étoiles basé aux Terreaux, pour une soirée un peu particulière aux côtés de Fabrice Garabedian, le chef du Splendid. L'objectif : réaliser cette fois-ci sans caméra et pour tous les clients du bistrot lyonnais, le repas qui lui a permis de s'imposer en finale. Au programme pour mémoire: sashimi de bar de ligne à l'huile vierge acidulée, pommes de terre écrasées aux saveurs iodées en entrée, suprême de pigeon sur l'os avec langoustine. Le dessert, qui n'était pas prévu lors de l'émission, sera un tiramisu aux spéculos. A noter que ceux qui veulent déguster ce menu peuvent encore le faire... Un reportage de David Tapissier pour

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Days 19 - 21

This photo isn't changed a bit. We actually found a pretty fun and modern restaurant with a cool atmosphere Friday night at our local mall called Paradis du Fruits. They have everything from Smoothies to Sundaes and you can customize your poison by adding some rum to your lime soda or some mango sorbet to your tequila to make a delicious margarita for example.
These mojitos were a tasty change from the usual glass of red wine with dinner.
The food is not half bad either.
I had some sort of curry chicken with rice and fruit (of course).

Saturday we ventured up into the big hill to check out the town's most dominant landmarks the Notre Dame de Basilica Fouviere and the Metallic Tower.

To get there from our neighborhood on the East side, we must cross the Rhone River, make our way about two blocks through the insanely crowded town center, over the Soane River and then Zig-Zag up the Fouviere to the top.

The Tower was constructed in the form of the Eiffel Tower in its first stages by M. Gay.

The entrance to the Basilica.

Roger on the front steps next to the city's namesake, the Lion.

From this point we are between the tower and the Basilica looking down at the Cathedral St. Jean where we visited last weekend. Here you can see both rivers and how narrow the town center actually is. The open square in the middle is called Place Bellecour.

*Fun Fact:
Measuring 312 m by 200 m (62,000 m²)[1], it is the largest clear square (i.e., without any patches of greenery, trees or any other kind of obstacles) in Europe, and also the largest square that is dedicated solely to pedestrians.
It used to be the area for Roman military and merchant activity during the Gallo-Roman era. Think about this: settlement of this city started around 43 BC!!!

I've been playing around a bit with my pictures at so humor me and my occassional attempt at being artsy. 
In the background you can see a pencil-shaped tower, that is the Radisson hotel and it marks the spot for the shopping mall Part Dieu and one of the city's major bus and tram stops. We live about three blocks from that point.

Here's another video I took, the 1970's effect was not intentional here.

More blogging to come on the rest of the weekend.......

**** notes taken from Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 18 - Le Progres

Today Roger and I tried a new restaurant, we have great luck with our lunch picks.
At Chez Moi (My house) I finally found the first relatively healthy chicken salad in town and had to celebrate the discovery with the Crumble Poire avec chocolat (Pear Pie with chocolate topped with vanilla ice cream). The waiter convinced me in his best english that this "pineapple cake" was amazing. He was right about it being delicious even though he confused his fruits and pastries.

I figure when it comes to desserts though it's okay to gamble and have yet to be disappointed which might be a future regret. The scales here are great for the weight-gain concerns though because they are in kilograms. The good news is every time I weigh and the number 55 shows up, I laugh to myself "I'm finally back to my kindergarten weight".
I've tried looking everywhere for gym and there isn't anything resembling a LA Fitness or 24 Hour. One gym is a Curves type workout where women go for a half-hour session but the hours are insane and they aren't open on the weekends. How is it that all the people here stay slim and trim on these high cheese, meat and pastry diets without duking it out in spin class or turbo kickboxing????

I've come to a couple of hypotheses, the first is Tons of walking - I walk probably 2 hours every day between school, the mall, grocery stores, getting lost, etc. This morning on my way to catch the bus, I see the C1 coming up behind me. Knowing that if I miss this bus, another one will not come for another 20 minutes. Especially today, the bus drivers are on strike and the loops are taking twice as long. First it was the air traffic controllers strike last week who caused us to lose our flight, and now I might miss my lunch date with Roger. So I start my sprint for probably two blocks through the people, across lanes of traffic carrying my purse and school books. The bus is making good headway and it pulls up to the stop about 50 yards ahead of me, luckily there are more people than usual waiting to board so it's delayed a bit. I manage to squeeze my hands in the rear double doors as they are closing and they thankfully open back up. Heart is racing now, cardio for the day done!

After I leave lunch, I go to the local "Tobacco" store to buy a pack of..... bus tickets. Don't worry, I haven't picked up all the European habits. I asked: "Dix tickets pour le bus, si vous plais. Bon Journee!"
Even though it's pretty meager, I'm elated by the fact that I'm able to have somewhat of conversation since outside of school and Roger they are pretty much non-existent. It's been just over two weeks into my stay here and this feels like quite a milestone.

I hop off the bus at Part Dieux, the local shopping mall where the only recognizeable stores are The Body Shop and well, McDos. I make my way to my new favorite store where I purchase all my craft needs for my newest hobby Decopatch. Halfway there, a crowd is gathered and shoppers alike are leaning over the railings and stairs of the mall's three floors watching a fashion show. It's my lucky day. These things never happen to me in the states.

I wish it were warm enough here to think about buying dresses and short sleeved shirts. It's currently 0.3 degrees C, which is (.3x2)+30 = 30.6 degrees F. There's no sign of f this cold letting up anytime soon.

Speaking of recognizeable stores, one of the local grocery stores I found today actually has a tex mex section. hehe, Old El Paso is so exotic.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 14

Today was another cold day with more snow. We took the metro over to the west side of town past the Soane river. Here the city backs up against the Fourvière hill where the hidden Roman ruins are one of its many attractions.

This photo was taken on the backsteps of the Lyon Cathedral. On the hilltop you can see the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the communications tower.

We hit up a museum of miniatures where they create sets and prototypes for movies.

An attempt at a photo with Gizmo.

A petite french bar scene.

Back on the street........

A group of school children are playing and singing in the square.

A street vendor serving up fresh crepes filled with various goodies such as my recent crave Nutella.

We stopped in around 4 pm to this local dining spot.
With such little space to seat customers, we are quickly learning that it's common to be sitting elbow-to-elbow with other patrons. They took us in immediately and sat us in between two other tables with literally about 4 inches between us, and the wait for the food was a little long even by European standards. Overall the atmosphere and food made it worth it.

The view from the inside out.

French Onion Soup served up with a side of do-it-yourself mozzarella and croutons was a perfect way to warm up.

I had the hen with mushroom sauce and rice. So tender that the meat practically fell off the bone.

Steak with a potato au gratin.

Roger had the fondant du chocolat and I had the coup de creole which was a rich rum raisin ice cream in a delicious rum sauce. It was probably the best dessert I've ever had.

After lunch we ducked in to the Lyon Cathedral to get out of the cold. It was built upon ruins of a 6th century church and took nearly 200 years to build. This was the main church of the city from it's completion in 1476 until the construction of the Basilica.

(this pic is from "day 7")

One of the most amazing aspects was the astronomical clock built in the 14th century that still works.
Definition from Wikipedia: An astronomical clock is a clock with special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets. This could include the location of the sun and moon in the sky, the age and phase of the moon, the position of the sun on the ecliptic and the current zodiac sign, the sidereal time, and other astronomical data such as the moon's nodes (for indicating eclipses) or a rotating star map.

Notice the zodiac signs such as scorpio, leo and taurus.

Watching the snow from our balcony.