Annecy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    A n n e c y, I discovered this city when I was student teaching while researching for geography lessons. What I like to convey most with teaching geography, is that France is about the same size as Texas (in fact France is a little bit smaller) yet the geographical features are so diverse. You’ll be in the south and feel like you’re in a dramatic French movie surrounded by olive trees and valleys. Move a little bit over and you could fall into caves, rigid landscapes, or even be at a beach! Then there is the eastern border that is lined with mountains; the longest being the famous Alps that separates France from Switzerland. Here is where I located Annecy filled not only with mountain scenery but a beautiful lake.

I was really fortunate with the weather, and most of my time in Annecy was spent sitting on the lawn next to the lake (I am even a lil sunburnt!) While getting my first lobster look of the year, I also walked around and took many pictures of the bright pastel flowers and buildings. Annecy is one of the most flowered cities in France, there’s even an award for it called the “Golden Flower”.

People here were beyond lovely. Whenever I am on the border of France close to a neighboring country, I do notice shifts is the local culture. What I mean is, personalities and habits change when there’s an influence in the typical cultural norm. For example in Strasbourg, I saw a lot of German influence with healthier food stores and bike riding. When in Annecy, I noticed overly friendly locals and healthier lifestyles (a lot of runners, bikers, roller-bladders, water sports, no smokers, really I saw almost no smokers) now I don’t have any knowledge on Switzerland culture, so I can only assume it’s influence of two cultures, or  the scenery of Annecy being so beautiful and positive.

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Lake Annecy is said to be the cleanest lake in Europe. It was formed more than 18,000 years ago from glaciers that melted. The glaciers and mountains act like a natural filtration system, which is why it is so crystal clear! You are able to see 8 meters down (the deepest part of the lake is 87 meters deep). Small rivers and an underground source still feed into the lake, which is why it is so prominent and kept clean! I’m used to seeing Chicago’s lake, lake Michigan, so let’s just say I WAS BLOWN AWAY // JUST LOOK AT THE AQUA COLORS

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B O A T . T O U R  for 14.50 euros you can take an hour boat tour around the lake, seeing nearby villages, castles, and some special mountain spots. Here are a few pics from it 🙂

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cute nearby village
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formed in the ice age
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lovers’ cave
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11th century castle, privately owned by a family where they live year round, what a dream!

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If you look closely, you can see hand-gliders ; a very popular activity !

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there’s another castle in the middle there. it’s been owned by the same family for over 28 generations !
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At one time this was one of the most famous (and best) restaurant in France. The Queen of England still eats here !
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One of the most expensive villages to live in, in France

 

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Annecy has a few nicknames : Pearl of the Alps // Venice of the Alps
I hope you enjoyed my photos, and I was able to share a little special-ness from across the world.

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thanks for stopping by, here’s some cute pigeons taking a dip :p

 

 

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WHAT AN AMERICAN MISSES IN EUROPE

 

Family, friends, boyfriend & my little furry nugget aside, there are a few things that I miss from the USA. That brings me to this post, where I thought I would make a list of all the things that make me feel like an American in a foreign country missing the things that I know. When I am back in the USA, most likely missing France and all the other things Europe has that America doesn’t, i’ll look back on this post for the sweet to the bitter. Perhaps i’ll make a list later of the things I miss from France.

disclaimer: I am perfectly well off without these things, and I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about first world problems, I’m only here to share some cultural differences an american realizes that is different from day to day life in a foreign country 🙂 

c o f f e e – the coffee that I miss is my non-espresso, big brewed coffee that I drink in a traveling mug on my way to work in the morning. There are a few reasons why you won’t find any of this in France; France drinks coffee slow, sipping it, to really take time for a break of caffeine. In my experience, coffee breaks have nothing to do with the taste of the coffee, but rather the shot of caffeine and the time to relax. Cafes will actually reuse espresso grounds over and over, thus tasting burnt and strong.

c o f f e e . c r e a m e r –  Milk and eggs are not refrigerated here in Europe, so when I thought ‘Where would the coffee creamer even be in the grocery store?’, the answer is no where. I did research online, and a few travelers who come to France looking for it buy heavy whipping cream and make their own with mixing it with milk. I don’t drink dairy and couldn’t find almond/soy whipping cream >.< luckily there is almond/soy/rice milk and I just use that.

g a r b a g e . d i s p o s a l – a strange mechanism to all Europeans

c e n t r a l . h e a t i n g – I was cold all winter and my bathroom has no radiator in it >.<

t a k e . a w a y -Chinese food – Chinese food does exist here, but it is not American Chinese food. Usually you have the options of beef/chicken/shrimp/veggie, here in France no veggie options exist on the menu ;(

d i v e r s e . f o o d – something that makes being in France so great, is that you are obviously getting authentic French culture. Something that makes being in America so great, is we’re a sexy melting pot of flavors and cultures. I miss Mexican food, my family’s pierogi and sauerkraut binge (seriously I can’t find sauerkraut here and Germany is right next door), Asian food, just an abundance of different backgrounds.

d r y e r s – d r y e r . s h e e t s

s t a n d i n g . i n . l i n e s – One thing I will never get used to in France is standing in line and people cutting without any shame whatsoever; France just doesn’t do lines. Every morning when I’m waiting for the bus I try to remind myself that this is a cultural difference, and that I should not take it personal. But I do take it personal when I am clearly at the bus’s door and some person pushes me out of the way, and in my most confident french I say excusez-moi. France is all about etiquette, so it just makes no sense how there is no etiquette when it comes to waiting for something.

s u n d a y . e r r a n d s – everything is closed on Sundays, where this is my favorite day to run errands like grocery shopping in the USA.

s c e n t e d . c a n d l e s – they’re really expensive when you do find them

r e u s a b l e . w a t e r . b o t t l e s – I’ve seen some coworkers with them, but I cannot seem to find one

p u m p k i n & n u t . b u t t e r s – cue basic girl commentary

 

 

I love France, but being American I naturally miss some things. I hope you thought this was interesting :p

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thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

City of Love

img_7218Paris.

These past two weeks I have been on my winter break, (breaks…France does a lot of those) and I ended it in Paris. Seemed like the perfect plan because I would swoop back to Blois and Kyle would fly out of Paris -.-

I have already visited Paris when I first moved to France to study abroad, so the pressure was on to be a tour guide a little for Kyle. My head is spinning already with trying to come up with an opinion on Paris. It’s the most visited place in the world, the THING people know about France, the city of love, in general the super hyped up city. They city has an abundance of museums, arrondisments (neighborhoods), restaurants, people, transports, lines, shops, just an abundance of just about everything. This overwhelming fact of there being so much makes it hard for me to form an opinion, because there are a millions ways to do Paris. The most simplistic way I can explain it is you can be either a tourist or visit Paris like you live there. Kyle and I did a little bit of both.

For example, Thursday on a rainy morning we walked to Notre Dame, walked through it’s park to take in the scenery and really remember it. Friday afternoon we walked to the Eiffel Tower, bought some sandwiches and ate them in the park in front of the tower. Did we wait in an 1-3 hour long line to go to the top of Notre Dame/Eiffel tower? Heck no. I totally understand why the travel connoisseur Anthony Bourdain says, if you are going to Paris do Paris, and that means drinking an espresso in a cafe and people watch, not wait in miserable lines. Do not plan too much.Do not experience what everyone says you have to experience.

We definitely still went to Le Louvre, because it’s a one of kind place and I don’t care how long the line is. Another thing we made sure to do is go to a traditional French brasserie for dinner. Kyle loves French onion soup, so we had to let him experience it in France :p i was over the moon we found a cute spot in the Latin Quarter, that has a veggie option, as well as a dog hanging out inside! We found a lot of good food spots via Pinterest this time. brasserie Le Petit Prince de Paris

In 2016, I said Tycho was going to be my official anthem for the year. Whenever I was applying for jobs, or doing work on the computer, getting ready, I put up their Youtube full albums. They were the background noise for a huge chunk of my life these passed months, so I got emotional and fluffy and fortunate for being able to see them play in Paris.

take a listen 🙂

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Paris is the fashion capital of the world, so I couldn’t help myself but do a little shopping here >.I revisited a store I stumbled upon on on my last trip here Kilo Shop. Kilo Shop is an organized vintage treasure chest of goodies. It’s a thrift store that sells items by the weight, not priced per item. SO YOU CAN PURCHASE SO MANY ONE OF A KIND ITEMS FOR PRACTICALLY NOTHING. I didn’t do hardcore digging because I was with Kyle, and let’s be fair I don’t think he looked like he was having fun, but was being a champ :p I did find a pair of vintage denim Levi pants made into shorts. Girls you know the struggle, it is so hard to find reclaimed denim shorts that don’t show your booty cheeks. These fit so perfect, and even have had the butt patched with denim patches, and I think it gives it so much character, I love them.  Wore them with tights a few times already in Paris! I am really trying to be more ec0-friendly with clothing buys/ not buy from stores like Forever 21 that have child labor issues and just over production of clothing. Marzia has touched on a few notes on unethical clothing if you’re interested :p

 

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we’re a horrible couple at getting photos of us together. we tried :p

INSTAXS 

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thanks for stopping by 🙂

Brugge

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I was so excited to hop over to Belgium and experience another francophone country. Belgium, situated north of France has three official languages: Dutch, French & German. I was a little naive and thought the majority of conversation and signs would be in French, but it was Dutch ! Not one person talked to me in French, I definitely heard it around me from other visitors, and the locals could speak French, but Dutch or English was the go to.

The major findings in Belgium are beer / fries / waffles / chocolate. As a French student/teacher in the U.S., I take responsibility of informing the public that French fries are not French ! They are Belgian. The very first day I insisted that we went to the quirky fry museum to learn all that is important with the fry. It isn’t large, but for 5 euros you learn about the history of potatoes (they came from Peru) and see some kitschy old things.

Some interesting things I learned // Belgian soldiers during WWI are thought to have offered American soldiers fries,  and hearing the Belgian soldiers speaking French they were assumed to be French ! Potato chips were born in NY when a customer complained the fries were too thick, so the chef sliced them ridiculously thin. China produces the most potatoes.

Over breakfast one day we met a couple from Seattle. They were kind and informed us that only 8-9 out of 50 some chocolate stores, actually make the chocolate in Belgian. So we made sure to go to some we knew were local/visitor favorites.

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I tried a four beer sampler, mixed with light & dark beer. One was cherry!

Some food places I would highly recommend for meals other than Belgian snacks are:
that are vegetarian & vegan friendly too 🙂

Sanseveria Bagelsalon //  adorable breakfast nook for homemade bagels

Hashtag Food // healthy fine dining for the evening

Books & Brunch // lovely spot for books, breakfast or brunch

It was bizarre walking around Brugge at night finding the right place to eat for dinner, because there are so many fancy restaurants that all empty because no one wants to spend 40 euros + a person every night/they also looked tourist trappery (we’ll make that a word lol). Hopefully my recommendations help, some are more pricey but it is definitely worth it 🙂

Brugge is one of the oldest/medieval cities in Belgium. The cobblestone pavements and canals are so romantic, I would totally agree on the ambiance of calling it a mini Venice. All the buildings, pathways, and canals were so picturesque and historical, I loved it! Hopefully my photos do some justice and I can share a little gushing.

Most of these photos bellow are taken on our walk to see the windmills. It’s a 30-40 minute walk, but so worth it! Not only are the windmills adorably Dutch, but the walk to  see them is so tranquil. The buildings are so clean and perfect, Kyle and I felt like we were on a movie set.

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Amsterdam 

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AMSTERDAM

Hello! I just landed on the other half of my journey so I wanted to take a breather and write about my past few days. I survived the hectic bike paths, seriously they will run you over, and waiting in long museum lines. As a preliminary you can purchase museum tickets two months in advance, but Kyle & I were oblivious to this, so the week before we left they were already sold out of online tickets. The Van Gogh museum was around a 35 minute wait, which wasn’t too bad. The museum contains his famous self portraits, the bedroom & the sunflower painting. The sunflower painting was definitely my favorite to see because the flowers were much more textured than I imagined, some had such heavy layers of paint on them. The museum doesn’t have Starry Night, which I thought was silly because it is THE Van Gogh museum and that painting is a household name (it’s in NYC) but I know recognition on his other paintings is still well deserved 🙂

The two hour wait outside**The Anne Frank museum was all that I imagined it to be, mostly simplistic with museum items so you can get a feel for the house. The most surreal parts of the museum is seeing her walls with newspaper photos glued to it to add some real world into her room, her and her sister’s height measurements drawn on the wall, and of course seeing the diary.

When I look back on my small trip these are the things I will think of // not necessarily the Red Light district or locally legal substances :p things that I personally found interest in, and maybe you will too**

  1. Tulips // Clogs
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first morning we had in Amsterdam we headed to the flower market, known as Bloemenmarkt. Bloemenmarkt has individual huts and house boats selling floral goods. Sadly due to the season, we weren’t in the prime tulip time. Instead of soaking in luscious smells of floral, you could buy some vibrant wooden tulips or flower bulbs to plant in your own garden.

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    Bloemenmarkt

  2.  Eats // Drinks
    pancakes / dutch apple pie / mint tea / homemade gingerale

    pancakes
    homemade gingerale // drinks with a view
    dutch apple pie

  3. Bikes // Canals
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Public transport is really easy to use! Plus being clean and safe with workers all around was lovely

Fun Facts // Dutch are the tallest in the world, it was so nice to feel normal, and EVEN SHORT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. Dutchies love their coffee, after Scandinavians they are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers, averaging 3.2 cups a day! Sounds like the perfect plan to me, minus the fact that half of the coffee shops in Amsterdam weren’t selling coffee and that was only slightly confusing to find the right one.

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Thanks for stopping by :)!

 

IN THE BACK OF MY MIND

Some words that keep coming up in conversation that I have to take a pause with and think; they’re a bit dusty in the back of my mind & on the tip of my tongue. Writing it down always help to remember, and hey maybe you’re interested. 🙂

up / en haut (adv), levé (adj)

straight ahead / tout droit (adv)

I don’t care / ça m’est égal

it doesn’t matter / ce n’est pas grave

to turn on / allumer

to turn off / éteindre

I lied / j’ai menti

on sale (discounted) / en solde (adv)

I wonder / Je me demande (I ask myself)

floor / le sol

to spell (orally) / épeler