beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 Donc je pense que j'ai déjà indiquer que ma nouvelle ordinateure a quelquechose de différent, en comparaison avec l'ancienne: ce qu'on appelle un "number pad" en anglais. (J'ai toujours du misère à trouver la vocabulaire pour les choses éléctronique en français. Beaucoup du temps c'est seulement le mot en anglais avec "le" ou "la" en avant.) Bien, maintenant je trouve que les accents (é, à, ï, etc.) sont beaucoup plus facile à ecrire à cause des "shortcuts". Je voudrais seulement faire une post en français car je n'ai pas beaucoup d'opportunités à la faire. 

Je n'ai pas encore entendu des positions en France ou Québec, mais il y a encore du temps. Je pense qu'ils nous contactent par poste et non pas par courriel ou téléphone aussi. Néanmoins, je suis encore très anxieuse. 

J'ai besoin de penser au sujet des choses plus positives, (Bien, j'ai besoin de penser au sujet de mes devoirs, papiers et dissertations, mais... ;) ) donc à ce but je voudrais vous introduire à une filme excellent, "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis". Je l'ai vu quand j'étudiais en France, et je la trouvai très amusante. :3 C'est tout au sujet des cultures différentes en France... et les difficultés qu'on trouve quand ils se rencontrent. 

Les soustitres anglais ne sont pas la meilleure, mais je sais que les dialectes sont très difficiles à traduire. 



(J'espère aussi que mon français est passable.)
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I honestly am not sure if this was a bad day or not. I think, although it started off rough, it ended off half-decently. Let's break it down...

Bad stuff:
-woke up with a headache. Haven't had alcohol in weeks, so this wasn't a good sign.

-woke up tired, had to get out of bed.

-started sneezing, sometimes so violently my tummy hurts when I suddenly bend over double. :P

-I've gone all sniffly, and my cough hasn't gone away. Verdict? I have a cold. :( WHY, BODY?? THIS MONTH IS THE HOME STRETCH! DON'T GIVE IN NOW!

-It's cold again. -20C or so for most of the day, overcast, with lots of wind and snow. It's rumoured on facebook that factoring in the windchill, tonight it's going to reach -47C (!!)

-I didn't realize until I'd already gotten on the bus this morning that I'd forgotten my bus pass. :( That never happens to me.

-One of the girls in the group project that I'm working on for Women's Studies didn't show up to our brainstorming session. I'm worried that she'll be dead weight and ride on our coattails for a good mark. 

GOOD STUFF:
-Met an old friend of mine at the bus stop (an old bus buddy! We used to take the same bus all the time!) and ended up debating feminist theory for the hour-long bus ride. Epic. I love it when you can have smart, rational conversations with people. Very entertaining, and a good mental workout. Woke me up. 

-Although I forgot my bus pass, the first bus driver recognized me and let me on for free anyway, even giving me a transfer ticket so I could get onto the commuter bus for Edmonton for free! :) Of course, when I went to take the bus home at 3:00 after class, it was a grumpy elderly gentlemen driver that I didn't know, so I coughed up one of my commuter bus tickets from the summertime, which I still happened to have in my wallet. It's a good thing I'm a packrat and I avoid opportunities to clean out old stuff. >_> 

-I visited the Special Collections room in the Health Sciences library and spent some time with my favourite giant tomes, working on my thesis. Also, STAY TUNED FOR ANOTHER BLOG POST ON THAT, now with photographs! You are all very excited, I know

-Despite missing one person, the other two members of my assigned group seemed to have their act together. One girl was a science student and didn't really know how to research arts faculty papers, but me and the other guy gave her some pointers, and anyway she offered to create the powerpoint with our input because she has lots of practice with that. Less work for me! At the very  least I'm not carrying the whole group on my back, which has happened before. :P These other two seem all right! 

-Although I was very anxious about trying to chase down a French professor from last year to fill in a short piece of paper that says that I can speak French and English competently so I can apply for this job in France, and I had resigned myself to waiting on campus until 4:00pm for his office hours... I went to his office just to see if he had his hours posted on the door (hoping that they were earlier so I could go home and sleep), he walked up just as I was checking! And then he signed the paper and gave me a lovely paragraph-long review. :) I wasn't even expecting him to remember me very well, although I did take two French translation classes with him, but he remembered my name and the classes without prompting! :) He also asked me many questions about what I was going hoping to do in France, and I answered him fluently. The entire conversation took place in French. I felt strong. :) (I still have to chase down one more prof, though.) 

-In my History of Translation class, I got my first paper back! That was the one on the Métis translator who wouldn't take shit from anyone. I got an A+! :) She really liked it. Her comments were all like "fascinating!" and such. :) This makes me feel a bit better, although I'm still anxious for my midterm mark, which we will get back on Wednesday. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, so I'm now back at home and although I still feel sickly, I've had some honeyed tea and my little brother made me supper. (Kraft Dinner AKA Canadian macaroni & cheese, but hey, little steps.)

Stay tuned for a blog post that I've been wanting to make for a long long while...

beboots: (Elizabeth portrait)
 I've been... kind of working on homework this long weekend. I'm getting readings done at least, and dribs and drabs of other assignments! Most importantly of all, I've been working on a plan for my thesis, so I can figure out the flow of thoughts. I feel like I'm actually kind of sort of getting stuff done!

On a related note, I've slowly started to study for my Art History midterm in two weeks. It's mostly on the mid- to late-nineteenth century in Western art, and I've been trying to come up with Mnemonic devices to help me remember who painted what. Exampe: Millet painted "The Gleaners", and gleaners work in fields, well, gleaning different kinds of grains... like MILLET. >_> Hey, if it works for me... 

The strangest one has to be the one that I came up with for trying to remember Eugène Delacroix's oft-parodied "Liberty leading the people", which I quite like. Here's a reproduction of it from google images:


I've started to think of it in terms of a line from the French version of the Canadian national anthem, which goes:
"Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
"
Note that I've bolded "la croix", like the painter's name. Roughly translated, this more badass version of the anthem goes:
"Because your arm knows how to bear the sword,
And it knows how to bear the cross!
Your history is an epoch
Of brilliant exploits."

Which sounds an aweful lot like this image up there! 

So, uh, yeah, that's what I've been up to. >_>

Also, Turkey happened. Dad was out of town, still in India, and as he's the one who normally does the cooking, especially on Thanksgiving... I volunteered! I managed to create stuffing, roast the turkey, and make the gravy. My siblings made various vegetable dishes... and we had pumpkin pie for desert! :D It turned out quite well! Huzzah!
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Let it never be said that you can be completely bored in any one class. Even in the densest of texts, you occasional run across passages that grip your attention.
Here are a few of those things that I have run across recently in my studies.

My thoughts... let me show you them... )

What have you guys been learning lately?
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Q: How do you turn a piece of paper into a lazy dog in three steps?
A: A piece of paper is an ink-lined plane, an inclined plane is a slope up, a slow pup is a lazy dog. 

*rimshot*

Okay, so I like puns. I'm irrationally amused by them. More than I should be, I think. And in my English-French translation class today, we discussed how to translate things like advertising slogans, because they often have word play and cultural references and such that may not physically exist in the language/culture you're translating to. 

Some of my favourites from the list were:

"If I only have one life, let me live it as a blonde" (For hair colouring) I think that we ended up coming up with a pun in Québecois French with "blonde" (the hair colour) and "blonde", as in "ma blonde", which is slang for my girlfriend. 

"Let the train take the strain" (for some British rail company). I think one of the guys in my group came up with "Pour n'avoir rien à craindre, prenez le train-dre", which translates, roughly, to "So you have nothing to worry about, take the train", except the word for train has a verb ending tacked onto the end of it so it rimes with "craindre" (to worry). It would never actually fly, but the way that he said it, waggling his eyebrows? Funny as hell.

We didn't get to this one, but I love it: "It sits as lightly on a heavy meal as it does on your conscience." (for Jell-O)

We did get into this class-wide argument on how to translate Taco Bell's slogan "Think outside the bun." Clearly, it's a play on the expression "Think outside the box", telling consumers to think beyond hamburgers and think about tacos. We trashed the original slogan altogether, in my group, translating it as "C'est comme une fiesta dans ta bouche" (It's like a fiesta in your mouth!). A couple groups tried to translate it directly, but used the word "pain" (bread) which had us all descend into arguments, because "bread" doesn't immediately bring to mind hamburgers, right? Especially not in France. And then our prof said the most hilarious line (maybe you had to have been there and heard it said). He was saying that no, the girl's proposed translation would never work, because her word choice didn't convey "la réalité du 'bun.'" He said exactly what it sounds like - it didn't convey "the reality of 'buns'", like, hamburger buns have abstract connotations circling around them that invoke certain feelings and thoughts, and yeah, it's true, but he said it so seriously everyone started laughing. XD

Anyway, I don't have a picture that's thematically appropriate for this post, so here, have a picture of some Olympic athletes running with scissors:
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(quote in subject line is something that's been floating around in my head for a while; I think that I learned it like five or six years ago, and I've long forgotten who said it, other than the fact that it wasn't me.)

Today, I worked for nearly five hours on my new costume for Animethon. It's... coming along. Anybody who's ever sewn anything before will tell you that the first (huge) chunk of time that you spend on these things is mostly cutting out fabric. D:

I decided to be artistic this time and post in-progress shots taken at weird angles, because that's the way I roll.

Oh, and before I forget... I'm going as the titular character of the Chevalier D'Eon. I can put my French and history skillz to use with this character! :D For the curious, here is a shot of the outfit that I'm in the process of making (minus helmet, sword and horse):



P.S.: the historical figure he's based off of was pretty awesome. Read the wikipedia article here.

Anyway....

Pictures... let me show you them... )
Anyway... I hope that that was vaguely entertaining. I'm being productive and distracting myself from the fact that I'm all alone in this big empty house. D:
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"Trying one's best is a good thing, but trying one's patience is a bad thing. A blunt instrument is dull, but a blunt remark is pointed." (seriously, what the hell, English? D: )

A cheerful little story for you guys, also courtesty of Bill Bryson's book "The mother tongue: English and how it got that way": 
Sometimes words are made up for a specific purpose. The U.S. Army in 1974 devised a food called funistrada as a test word during as urvey of soldiers' dietary preferences. Although  no such food existed, funistrada ranked higher in the survey than lima beans and eggplant. Pg. 77.

 
Status report!

I haven't finished either paper (I haven't even opened the file folder for my history one), but I now have 503/1000 words of my French paper written! :D That's better than yesterday... and is, in fact, like halfway done! (Plus editing time, of course, mustn't get ahead of myself...)

I also had my job interview today. It went... all right, I think. I have no idea if I gave a good enough impression or not. I showed up a bare five minutes early, because I parked my car too far away without realizing, then got lost on foot. Googlemaps showed the place to be right in the middle of an intersection when it was, in fact, down by the river valley, like ten minutes walk away. Go technology! :P So the hems of my pants were wet from scrambling through snowdrifts (I didn't have time to run down four blocks to get to the stairs that led down to the river, so climbed down. It wasn't steep, but damn was the snow deep), and my hair was pretty windblown by the end of it.

There were like a dozen of us applicants there. We were interviewed in groups, and while waiting the rest of us did the written portion... which were pretty much scenario questions - like "You are a barker, write your speech to entice people to come to your booth!" (Barkers = also known as those guys who run carnival games and call you over, like "step right up, step right up!") and stuff like that. We also had a group activity... which was my weakpoint. We were split into three groups, and each of us got a period photograph, and from that photo, we had twenty minutes to come up witha skit. It was crazy. I'm not sure I did too well... Ours was a photograph of a 1920s fair at Greenwhich with a hotdog vendor. I think we did okay... but the other groups did much better. :(

I think the interview went well, though. I hope that it will all work out.

On another note, my Habsburg history prof has been trying to encourage us to listen to classical music for the entire semester, telling us amusing stories about various composers - and of course the majority of what he calls "good" composers are from Central Europe. ;) In any case, because my brother was in the next room, chatting, I was like "GAH I need something to listen to... oh hey yeah classical instrumental music is supposed to be good for you to study to, right?" So I've been raiding youtube for awesome songs... and yeah, I've saved a bunch to my delicious. (Check it: http://delicious.com/Beboots/music ) They've really been helping, I think.

So what kind of stories was the good Professor Szabo telling us, about these composers? 
For instance, Heiden wrote the Austrian Imperial Anthem after seeing/hearing a crowd in England sing "God Save the King". He felt so moved that he wanted something like that for his own people. He, as an old man, was in Vienna when it was occupied by Napoleon and his troops. Now, the French really respected Heiden, and so he actually got an honour guard of French soldiers. They were so impressed with him, they requested that Heiden play something for them. Heiden, being a shaky old man by this time, sits down at his harpsicord... and plays the Austrian Imperial Anthem. ;)

Oh snap.  
beboots: (confusion)
("What would you say if I shaved my mustache?")
Quote = the first line of Emmanuel Carrère's trippy novel, "La Moustache". Essentially, it is about an unnamed man who has a wonderful mustache, and who, one day, decides to shave it off, just for a lark. But nobody notices. Not even his wife. At first, he thinks that it's a joke, but then when he confronts his wife about it, she's all like "You never had a mustache!" Then, he has existential problems. It gets worse, because all of his co-workers, even people his wife doesn't know and couldn't have told about the joke say that he's never had a mustache. A few days later, at a restaurant, the man must show his photo ID, and his wife sees and is all like "You know it's illegal to deface your ID." and scraches off the "marker" that was his mustache. He's disturbed, and when he gets home that evening, searches for the photographs from his vacation in Java, feeling the need to save further irrefutable proof that he once had a mustache, but can't find them. Then his wife's all like "We've never been to Java" and the ex-mustache man is all like D: . Pretty much he starts going insane, and thinks that his wife's out to get him, or maybe that she's insane, not him, or both, and ends up running away to Hong Kong after she claims that his father has been dead for a year when he knew that they were supposed to have supper like, that week. It ends with him killing himself with his razor.

Um. Yeah. That's what I read over reading week. I promise you that I absolutely positively did NOT make that story up. Someone actually writes stuff like this. ;)


Fleur De Lis In A Blue Sky by ~Beboots on deviantART

Anyway, other than that, my Reading Week went well! :D I went to Quebec City and Montreal with my friend Maialen. It was awesome. :) We arrived in Quebec City the last day of the Winter Festival, so we witnessed the closing ceremonies. There were also uber-awesome ice sculptures scattered all across the city, so you could be walking along, thinking on how beautiful and quaint the street is, then turn a corner and see two giant ice fish kissing each other. I am not making this up.

Oh, and if you're staying in Quebec City, don't go to La Belle Planète backpackers hostel. It is... a little bit scary. Mostly because of Skee-pee - the scary dog belonging to the hostel owner. The place is really just a renovated appartment... which kind of looks like it's under renovations, even when it isn't. Skee-pee also goes nutso if you try to pet it, frequently jumps on the bed - even, or maybe even especially, if there's someone sleeping there. It also bites. Just so you know.

We stayed in Montreal-Alexendrie hostel, which was AWESOME, in Montreal. It's really close to both the Metro station and the bus station, so if you want to bus in from Quebec City like us, or bus to the airport, it works out really well. Plus, compared to La Belle Planète, it was so much nicer and more professional and more awesome all around. :)

The Festival of Lights began while we were there - can you say ice slides, camp fires with marshmallows, tire à érable, Quebecois bands and fireworks? :D

For the uninitiated, tire à érable = a delicious French Canadian treat involving dripping really hot maple syrup onto crushed ice, and rolling it as it cools into taffy onto a popscicle stick. OMNOMNOM, delicious and patriotic... <3

I think that I shall write more about my trip, later on, when I'm not procrastinating and avoiding doing my homework... ;)
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"All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick."
- Peter's Evil Overlord List, #31

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOTHER!

Yes, today IS Valentines day, but it's a more important day to me than that - it's also my wonderful mum's birthday. :) So Happy Birthday to her! :D

"It's a very nice day to have a birthday, unlike Remembrance Day."
-My Mum


Macro Rose 2 by ~Beboots on deviantART

Incidentally, I'm flying out late this evening (at 10:30 at night, if you can believe it), to arrive in Québec City tomorrow morning at about 8am. We transfer three times, which means I'll get like no sleep tonight. D: So... I'll take a nap later on. Yes.

Who is "We"? The other half of "we" is my friend Maialen, who is Parisian and awesome. :) She says that I'm to be translating for her, because she finds the Québecois accent inpenetrable. D: (Did you know that the French (from across the water) consider "Québecois" to be a separate and distinct language from Standard French? Of course, they think that American English ("Américane") is a different language from British English, when we generally consider them mutually intelligible... to an extent... and thus, dialects. ;) )

I'm a little worried that my accent has changed too much to be understood easily by the Québecois. I spent a month in France this summer, so my accent isn't really Québecois, like it was in my last visit in grade nine...

Anyway, we're to visit Québec City (during the Winter Festival! :D ), then take a bus to Montreal. I've been to each city once before, on a four day trip in grade nine, but I only spent one day in Montreal... if any of you who are reading this have ever been, please reccomend places for us to go! I mean, I'm sure we'll find stuff to occupy ourselves (we're staying in the old parts of each town, which always means beautiful buildings and shopping, plus museums and other more cultural things ;) ), but I love to hear about other points of interest that people have run across before. :)

I'll be flying out a bare twelve hours from now, so I probably won't be in contact for a week or so after this, but I promise a long post detailing the high points of the trip. :) I wish you all a wonderful Reading Week! :D
beboots: (O RLY?)
Maria Theresa

She was pretty darn cool, I have got to say. A more Austrian predecessor of Queen Victoria. Also the mother of Marie Antoinette. Her correspondance in French to her daughter is a pretty interesting eye-opener, though - it's all about sex. Have you tried this? Or this? That will excite your husband... (Maria Theresa got on Marie Antoinette's case for not having enough children with her husband. The former had sixteen. D: )

Interesting anecdtote from the book "Queen, Empress, Concubine: Fifty Women Rulers from the Queen of Sheba to Catherine the Great": "In October 1762 a six-year-old child prodigy from Salzburg, named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91), played the harpsichord for Maria Theresa, Francis Stephen and their children. The royal family were thrilled by his precocious skill, and one story recounts that he was so exhilarated by his performance that he threw himself into the empress' lap and pledged to marry the young archduchess Marie Antoinette."

Say it with me, everyone: awww... :3


The Way to Bruges by ~Beboots on deviantART

Speaking of ambitious Europeans... in 1668, Lous XIV (yes, the Sun King we've all heard so much about, L'etat c'est moi and all that) was very ambitious, but had just lost a humilating war with Holland. All he got out of like two years of war were a few puny bits of Flanders (incidentally, the region where I studied French this past summer!). He was pissed, and wanted revenge.

But the Dutch had really won the last time because of timely English intervention. So this time, Louis bribed the English to keep their noses out of the whole thing. Then, he invaded the Netherlands in 1672, embarking on a war of revenge. The Dutch, alarmed by all of this, initially offer a very generous peace treaty that would relinquish some of the lands that Louis wanted, but Louis wants the whole pie, so he refuses.

Okay, you know how most of the land in Holland is "reclaimed"? Like, is actually under sea level, and has been reclaimed from the sea by the clever use of dykes? Yeah, so essentially the dutch break the dykes, and flood most of their country. Amsterdam is like, an island. And the French troops can do pretty much nothing - they're infantry, they have no ships...

So, yeah, the Dutch are awesome. Also, because France being all pushy and stuff alarms the rest of Europe ("noooo! Our balance of power!" D: ), pretty much anybody sympathetic to the French allies against them. Including the English. Apparently the French didn't bribe them enough. ;) And they bring the Swedes with them. Oh those crazy Swedes.

... I've been studying diligently for my History 310: history of the Holy Roman Empire midterm, can you tell? :D

Oh, and for the crack-worthiness, check this comic out: http://community.livejournal.com/hetalia/220943.html Can you say... the history of Europe as portrayed by anthropomorphized countries, as written by a Japanese manga artist?
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Exert from the preface to Laclos's "Les Liasons Dangereuses", known in English as "Dangerous Liasons". Rough translation: "Persons with delicate taste will be disgusted by the simple and false style of some of these (letters)." (and this is how I introduce my Nanowrimo post. XD )

Anyway, "Les Liasons Dangereuses" is incredibly interestingly written, actually: essentially, it's a series of letters that the author, Laclos, has claimed to have found, and just rearranged into their proper order, as he explains in his introduction. However, in the following preface, the editor of the book claims that they can't possibly be true, because people don't really act in such horrible fashions to each other. So essentially, the reader is left to figure out for oneself if people are actually too mean to exist in real life, or if it is indeed possible for people to act this way and thus the letters are truth... There was apparently (according to my french teacher in Lille) lots of debate when it first came out as to whether or not they were real letters or not, but... XD Anyway, we know now that Laclos wrote everything: not just the letters, but the introduction AND the preface (the one supposedly written by his editor), all as a part of the style of the book. XD Brilliant!

Anyway, I'm currently writing my own novel. At the time of my writing of this post, I've hit just over 10,000 words, but I'm nowhere near my daily wordcount goal (1,667 words).

To the newcomers to my journal... "A novel? What the heck are you doing that for? D: What brought this on?" Well, check this out: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ That should explain everything... but for those too lazy to follow the link, essentially I've pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, or I fail at life. :3 I succeeded last year at about 60k, so I know that it can be done! It's super fun, and really helped my writing style. This year, my novel is about vampires, and is tentatively titled "How the Undead Figure Out Life".

Also, my laptop, Sargon, is working out very nicely so far. Yay for Windows XP! :D

Here is a widget, so you may keep track of my wordcount status. :3 I shall hopefully post exerts later on in the month, when I get some really good ones... I've only just worked my way past "exposition exposition exposition" and "the main characters have met each other" phases.



(please tell me, guys, if that shows up, because it's not showing up for me... D: )
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Yes, I have arrived home safely! (It just occurred to me that I haven't updated my "blog" since I got back, so to stave off rumours of my untimely demise...) I am happy to be home... but I think that I'm going through reverse culture shock. Why do I think this? What evidence have I?

1) I get dressed for breakfast. In my own house. You don't wear pyjamas to breakfast down with the guardiennes of your dorm in Lille. It's like a restaurant, so you dress like it. But in the privacy of my own home, I could probably eat naked, should I so choose (and if, well, my mum and my brother weren't home... But the point is... D: )

2) Everyone looks sloppy to my eye. Heck, look sloppy to my eye, because my French clothing only just came out of the laundry.

3) I miss Kir. It was delicious. (Kir = champagne and fruit juice, drunk as an apparatif before a meal. French waiters look at you funny if you don't order a drink such as this at the right time. I enjoyed acting French, okay?) Apparently, it doesn't exist here in Canada. ;_; 

I do so enjoy ordering things in English, though, and being understood. :3

I should tell you guys about the gongshow that was my trip home. First of all, apparently calling a taxi two hours ahead isn't early enough in Paris: to get to the airport, it's apparently best to book it a day ahead of time. TAKE HEED, PEOPLE! I essentially had to pay for the guy's trip to my hostel as well as the time that I actually spent in the car. It was the most expensive taxi ride in my life: €60. That's like $90, for a half hour trip. D: Still, it was actually a really nice ride. The man was very nice and polite, and spoke very clear French to me. Also, the car smelt very fresh (I almost wrote "smelt very French" right there. D: ), was very new and clean, and there was soothing music playing in the background. So it was okay. 

I did start feeling homesick for the first time on this trip, though, ironically on the last day. It was probably because I had to wait for my taxi for 45 minutes after breakfast, fretting without anything to do. I nearly cried. ;_; 

But don't worry, I didn't break into tears, mostly because my taxi arrived earlier than he said he would. So it was all good. 

I arrived early enough for my first flight, which was through Lufthansa, the German airline. Seriously guys, if you have to fly anywhere and Lufthansa is an option, take it. They are awesome. No joke. They're very efficient, feed you lots of good food, and always seem to speak perfect English (as well as perfect German, I assume, but as I don't speak German, I can't really judge their linguistic quality).

I had to fly backwards, from Paris to Franfurt. It was like an hour and a half long flight. Once we arrived in Frankfurt, I stepped off the plane, onto the tarmac, and onto a waiting bus, which took us all to the terminal. You walk right into the door, immediately see the "departure" sign with your flight on it, and are directed by very clear signs to the proper gate... where another bus is waiting to take you to your new plane. It was on the ground for like half an hour, tops. They were very, very efficient. :3

My second flight was all the way from Frankfurt, Germany, to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was a very long flight (with Air Canada), which was tolerable for two reasons: 

1) It was a new plane, and so it had those mini TVs in the front of your seats. I watched several movies. :3 It was awesome. Also, you could track the flight on a little map of the world. :3

2) My seating partner, the lovely fourteen-year-old Juliana from Austria! She spoke German and surprisingly good English, for all that she only started learning like three years ago. We got to talk a lot, switched iPods for a bit, shared snacks, etc. It was awesome. :3

Then, it began raining just as we landed in Calgary (what a welcome, Canada!). And there was thunder, and, more importantly, lightning. There was so much electrical activity, in fact, that the ground crew couldn't legally go outside of the building because of worker's compensatin... which meant that we sat on the tarmac for over half an hour, waiting for the storm to blow over... after a nine-hour flight. Not fun. D:

But eventually, the rain let up, so we were allowed to get off the plane... thank goodness. Anyway, after I helped Juliana get through customs (and their immigration forms... D: ) and find our luggage, I said goodbye to her (she was meeting relatives in Calgary) and went to switch planes. I arrived at the right gate five minutes before we were to begin boarding... and waited. And waited. And then there was an announcement that said, essentially, that the fuel truck and hit the plane, and now something was dented, slightly. So even though it was probably perfectly safe, we had to switch planes... and therefore gates. So we ran all the way across the terminal to get to our new plane... and we had to wait another forty-five minutes for them to ready the plane so we could get on then take off. 

And you know, because of the relative short length of the flight between Edmonton and Calgary ( it's less than an hour - we essentially take off, then land), and because of all the delays, we actually departed Calgary after we were supposed to have arrived at our final destination. D: Ridiculous! It would have actually been faster for mum to have picked me up from Calgary. The next time dad books my flights (or maybe I'll book them, next time?), I will refuse to do such a short leg. No way. D:

Ironically? I had actually flown over Edmonton on my way from Frankfurt to Calgary. D: Must... take up... parachuting...

Day 34

Jul. 5th, 2008 08:51 pm
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Day 34

Okay, so my luck seems to be flip-flopping all over the place. First of all, I got a really good deal on the train tickets to take Yan and I to Paris from Lille, online, for like half the price of what it is to buy them right there, on the day. And they were first class, not second class. 

...Then, Yan lost hers. And we only found out like fifteen minutes before our train left. D: She bought another one (she couldn't do much else), but I had to leave her to catch the train by myself, because it was a close thing. So there I sat, in the first class, wondering for the entire hour whether or not Yan had made it onto the train and what I would do if she hadn't. 

Luckily, she made it. :3 We had an almost tearful reunion on the platform. Then, we got a little bit lost looking for the place we had booked to stay the night.

First sign that the hostel may not be as conveniently close as you thought it was: when the first taxi driver you approach to take you there refused because it was "trop loin" (too far). D: Well, he actually relented and took us when Yan and I began looking lost and tearful. Also? It's not a good sign when the experienced Parisian taxi driver has to dust off his GPS to find us our hostel. D: 

Still, we made it. A bit late: I had planned to arrive at 10:30 or so, dump our stuff, then head over to the Japan Expo for 11:00 or so. Instead, we didn't arrive at the hostel until past noon, and then getting our train tickets and taking the train down to the Parc Des Expositions took like over an hour as well. D: It was really bad. Apparently, what looks to me (with my inexperienced eye) on the map like a distance of about 10 to 15 minutes (driving) translates into over an hour (and four transfers) of train. We have to do a loop to get there from our hostel, because there isn't a direct train heading in that direction. D: 

Anyway, other than the really stupid location, things are actually rather nice here. This hostel isn't technically a hostel: it's actually an apartment that you can rent out for however long you want. It's quite nice inside the rooms. They even have a mini-kitchen (including a stove, fridge, kettle, toaster, mircowave...), a TV (and DVD player), free wireless internet (hence, this post), etc.,etc. Except that it doesn't have a bed. Well, it has a fold-out couch, which is acceptable for three days. Plus, when I get the deposit back, this place is like 1/5th of what a hotel would cost per night. And there's a really nice chinese restaurant next door. I just ate there. It was delicious. OMNOMNOM.

Now why don't I talk about the Japan Expo? :D I went the first day with Yan (I was alone today because she flew back to Canada this morning), which was uber awesome funtime. Since we were so late (we arrived at nearly 2 o'clock), there were no lines whatsoever to buy our tickets (I got a three day pass). Then, I just had to pop into the vestiary to change into my outfit, and whabam! Instant awesomeness! :D 

The place is massive, by the way. The whole thing is one dealers room, with food stalls and speaker areas all around. This room is probably about fifteen times the size of the dealer's room at the Animethon at Grant MacEwan. No joke. And everything there is so awesome! :D They have a lot more original artists (they have like five artists alleys) than we do in Canada (I took advantage of this and bought some locally-made French doujinshi.)

Also, they have lots of hardcore cosplayers. And a lot of gothic lolitas hanging around. And a lot of lolital clothing stalls. I haven't given into temptation and looked at them in detail yet, because I honestly don't have enough space in my suitcase to fit anything that I buy there. But I still have one day, so I may yet succum to temptation... D:

Also, famous people. Apparently, Miyavi (a j-rocker) is hanging about the lolita stalls, but I haven't been able to get close. I did catch the last half of Takeshi Obata's lecture/ Question & Answer session today, though, but no autographs for me. ;_; (remember, he's the artist who drew Hikaru no Go, from which the character I dress up as comes from) I only caught the second half because it was right at 11 am and the entry crowds are crazy, even for people who already have passes. Seriously. I should have caught on yesterday when I saw all of the fencing arranged in loops in the front... 

But I did catch the lecture that the author of Hellsing gave! (That was for you, Ashley). I also got some good photos of the mangaka, and a video of him sketching a picture of Alucard. Badass.

I've also met many awesome people! Most of them were French, although I did run into a group of German cosplayers who were awesome, and a group of people from Britain (we've exchanged facebooks). :3 I hope to see them again tomorrow. I haven't run into Ashley's Alexandre yet, but it's a big festival, and again, there is tomorrow. 

Also, people like my costume! :D I acquired a fan that actually fits with the character design (before, I was using a bright purple one, not the white one like Sai has in canon). I have a nice pose, which involves the fan, and I have gotten many compliments and people asking me for photographs. On the first day, Yan and I kept count (31 photo requests between when we arrived at 2:15 or so until we left at 6:15). Today, I lost count at 15 or so, but there was at least thrice that ammount. A couple of times, a single person asks to take a photo, then when I pose, everyone in the area takes out their camera as well. D: I'm not swarmed as much as the epic Sakura (with feathers) or that angel guy (with the epic wings) or that blue elf-chick (with the overall epic-ness) (the photographs of these people shall be uploaded next week, probably, for your viewing pleasure), but I still feel awesome. :3 It's interesting to walk around, then hear someone poke their friend and go "hein, t'as vu Sai? Vite, regardes, Sai!" ("hey, did you see Sai? Quick, look, Sai!") One guy thought I was from Onmyouji, which is a believable mistake, since Sai and Abe no Seimei are from the same era and social class, and wear similar outfits. Most people recognize me, though (or, at least, the people who ask for photographs). It helps that there's a lot of Hikago merchandise around because of Takeshi Obata's attendence of the festival. :3 

I've stopped by the go tables (where people are being taught how to play go) a few times, and smiled at people there. (For the uninitiated, my character, Sai, is a ghost that "lives" for go, and is the most awesome go player EVAR). Tomorrow, I'll ask to be taught how to play. :3 I wonder if I shall get many photographs taken of me playing go... 

So I suppose that this post is enough for now! I shall add more details (and pictures) later on. See you guys soon!

Day 32

Jul. 3rd, 2008 01:44 pm
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Day 32

It's almost time to go home. ;_; I'm really, really glad that the exams are over (European Economics wasn't so bad after all! :D ), but I'm reallys sad to be leaving Lille (but happy to be going home). 

But wait! I'm not going home right away! I have to figure out how to navigate Paris to find my hostel (with giant bags in tow), then rush to the Japan-Expo (which I'm still psyched about... I'm just not looking forward to having to find it...) It would be so much easier if I could but print off a map... D:

I've gotten almost everything packed up (minus my laptop, a few odds and ends, and the clothing I'll be wearing tomorrow). I actually accumulated quite a  bit of trash in my room over the month! You know, random papers I don't really need, the wrappers for various things... I even rediscovered things that I had bought but then had forgotten about. It as all very exciting. :3 My two bags are nearly full. (Yes, two, because I bought a second, smaller suitcase for 20€ at the market at Wazzemmes.) I hope that whatever I buy in Paris won't take up much space... or be too heavy...

I'm also looking forward to having dinner with Maialen, the French (Parisian, to be exact) chick that I met here in Lille who will soon be attending the U of A. :3 We're going to have dinner in Paris on Friday together. That shall be exciting! I hope that I don't get too lost on the way there or back...

Once again, last night, I was asked for directions by an actual French person! :D I really am blending in... and of course, now I have to go home. D:

Anyway, I'm not sure if my hostel has internet access or not, so I may not upload any pictures or post any updates until after I get back. Oh, and speaking of pictures... I won in two categories for the Summer Program photo contest! :D One of them is here, on Deviantart: http://beboots.deviantart.com/art/Postcard-Worthy-Shot-89849628 The other one has been uploaded on facebook, but I'll eventually get around to putting it on DA... I won a book of photographs of the Nord-Pas-De-Calais, by the way. :3 

Okay, so as I was saying, I'm not sure when I shall next post, so I shall leave you with this belgian hot chocolate recipe! :D Enjoy!

Hot chocolate

Ingredients

2.25 cups milk

0.25 cup water

0.25 cup superfine sugar

100mg bar chocolate (Belgian is best, dark if you have it)

0.25 cup cocoa powder

Instructions

1) Stir milk, water and sugar. Bring to rolling boil.

2) Add chopped chocolate & cocoa and bring to boil.

3) Reduce heat when texture is uniform, wisk.

Day 28

Jun. 29th, 2008 09:31 pm
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Day 28

Study Time! I'm sure that some of you may have forgotten (as have many in my class) that hey, we're actually taking classes here in Lille! That means that we also have exams, what do you know! D: So, essentially, today was spent studying for me, with a three hour shopping break short breaks in between going over passé simple and philosophes

Shopping is great here, by the way. There's a France-wide clothing sale going on at the moment (called Les Soldes) and every clothing store worth it's salt has stuff at least 30%, if not more. I've seen stuff on for 80% off. It's sweet. Of course, they do interdisperse stuff that's not on sale right among the stuff that are really good deals, so... yeah. Anyway, it's awesome. :3

Yesterday, I tried moules frites for the first time. It's a dish specific to the north of Europe, and it's essentially steamed mussels and French fries. But it's so  delicious. OMNOMNOM. 

I shall definitely miss the mussels... and the great cheese... and the actual fresh French bread... and the chocolate... D: Why isn't this stuff found the world over for cheap? D: No wonder the French don't export many tourists... they have all that they really want right here in their own country...

On a more annoying note, I now have to walk three blocks down and around my dorm to get in, because the gate that's closest to the university is "en panne" (i.e., broken). D: Not fair! Now I have to actually walk places! Not that I didn't before... I swear I've lost several pounds here, just from being so active every day. I do take the métro, but everything is so close here, it's really just easier to walk most of the time. And more scenic. 

Oh, and I was mistaken for a French person yesterday! I was on my way to meet a few people for lunch, and this middle aged French couple approached me and asked me for directions to Centre Ville. I was perfectly capable of giving them directions back in French, and they even asked me what the place was called, and I could tell them both of it's names (La Grande Place  is what everyone calls it, but it's offical name is La Place Du Générale Charles De Gaulle). I felt very French. :) I blend, I blend! :D

Anyway, I'm leaving the country in like seven days plus fourteen hours. ;_; I'll miss France, but right now I miss all of my Canadian friends (wow, I almost wrote ''Canadian French'', and I suppose I miss that too... I'm told I have a faint Québecois accent in French), my tea, and being able to order stuff in my native language without feeling annoyed... Oh, and I miss being able to call people on their cellphones to meet up instead of standing in front of random monuments and hoping that they show up at the time that we arranged... 

I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Coming up this week:

EXAMS

Shopping!

Japan-Expo!
Oh, and I have news regarding the Japan Expo... apparently one of the guests is Obata Takeshi...  in other words, the mangaka that illustrated Death Note and... Hikaru no Go! As in, the guy who drew the character that I'm dressing up as! :D I really hope that I get into his lecture... It shall be sweet. :3

PS: I do have some videos of France up on Facebook! I'm afraid that I can't find the link that allows me to send them to people who aren't on facebook, but... Check them out, if you can! 

Day 22

Jun. 23rd, 2008 09:13 pm
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Day 22

So last week, my French teacher, Dominique F. told us yet another interesting word origin: sadism. Apparently, there was a Count of Sade, who was locked up for, um, kidnapping women and, well... yeah, hence, sadism. The subject was only brought up because the Count actually wrote a lot in prison, and it had something to do with some "ism" or another and it was literature-revelant, okay? ;) But then Monsieur was like (in French, of course, but translated for the benefit of those who don't speak French fluently enough to get sexual jokes...) "Oh, another parenthesis... The masochist said to the sadist: "Hurt me! Hurt me!" and the sadist replied "no.""

Yeah, I love France. ;) I also have photos from Belgian chocolate shops that sell more... racy molded chocolates. Very amusing. :3

I've also finally bought stamps! The post cards have been written and addressed and stamped! Soon, they shall be sent off to you all, hopefully to arrive before I do. ;) 

Oh, and I must relate a quick anecdote from my time in Brugge. I was in a kind of new age store that sold really funky clothing, but I was buying a few really nice scarves. I was observing my surroundings, trying to blend in (tourists are always a target for pickpockets, and I find that you're treated more nicely in general if they think that you're local), and I was listening very intently to the people in front of me as they spoke in Dutch. The lady at the counter would say someting to them that sounded very much like a Dutch variant of "hello, how are you today?" and there would be the generic  Dutch "fine, thanks", which don't really need translation. I could sort of understand the numbers, as "octo" sounds like it should be "eight", etc., right? Anyway, and then after exchanging goods, they'd each say "dankevel" (or something like that) to each other. 

So when it was my turn, the lady at the counter said "hello" to me in dutch, and I nodded, smiled, and mumbled someting that sounded like what she had said (when you mumble quietly, especially if there's music and/or people talking in the immediate vicinity, they totally fill in the blanks mentally, you know?). Then she gave me the total in Dutch (which I saw on the till), so I handed her the right amount of money, and she said "dankevel" and a few other things, to which I replied with "dankevel" (yay for imitating blindly!). So I interacted successfully in Dutch! 

But the story isn't over. I still hung around because my friend Yan was trying on some clothing, and when she went to the counter we were talking in English. The Dutch employee saw us, did a double take, and asked (in English), "Hey, didn't I just talk to you in Dutch?" So apparently I passed as a native of the Netherlands. :3

So this Wednesday, I shall return to Belgian to go to Brussels! :D Yay for chocolate! ... and I'm determined to find more waffles. D:<

Day 21

Jun. 22nd, 2008 10:13 pm
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Day 21 (...wow, has it really been that long...?)

So it has been brought to my attention that I haven't yet spoken about Ypres. :) It's an awesome city. Much of it has been rebuilt since the first world war, as it was literally leveled by shelling. The really cool thing about it is that those buildings that were rebuilt? They're exact replicas of the orginals, save for the fact that the dates written on the sides are now like "1923" and so forth. So it has a kind of... newness to it that makes you think "ah, so this is what it was like 200 years ago when it was new..." (which isn't strickly true, as the buildings would have probably looked even more grimy way back when because of the industrialization polution and so forth...)

Anyway, we go to see the Menin Gate (we passed through it on our way in, in fact), and that was just awe-inspiring. I can't remember the exact dimesions, but I swear that it rivals the Arc de Triomphe in size and grandeur. It's a giant war memorial dedicated to those soliders of the British Empire whose bodies couldn't be found. It's litterally covered with names, which is rather depressing. 

The main attraction of Ypres for us was the In Flanders Fields War museum. It was awesome. :) All of the displays were in French, English, Dutch and German, so it was easy for me to understand. They had a temporary exibit on about the different cultural groups that fought in the trenches; did you know that the British actually brought in many "barbarian" soliders from its colonies? Not just Native Americans from Canada, but also East Indians, Africans, Polynesians... even a few Chinese and Vietnamese labourers were sent to the battlefields of Europe! It was really interesting to read about all of this and see the interesting "foreign" uniforms... Oh, and in the display on "Canadian soldiers", they had this deer skin that belonged to this Native American soldier who fought in the trenches. In traditional style, he depicted his exploits in battle on a deer skin - so it looks really ancient, until you realize that the enemy figure are wearing german helmets. It's awesome.

And that was just the temporary exibit! They also had a really well done permanent one as well. There was dialogue and sound effects playing as you looked at the displays... oh, and when you entered, you got a card that you scanned at computers which were found at intervals throughout the museum. Essentially, you follow the life of a person from the era. I got a Dutch nurse, Rosa something or another, who worked in a field hospital near Ypres... and she was killed on her way home at the end of th war. D: One of the teachers actually followed the story of a young Adolf Hitler. I kid you not. It was an awesome museum.

This past Saturday, Yan and I returned to Brugge for a day trip. Essentially, we bought Belgian chocolate. Lots of it. Oh, and we also went up to the top of the the famous belltower (and listened to it ring as it struck the hour of one o'clock!) and checked out Michelangelo's Madonna in that one church... both of which we missed when we went with the class. Also, we found another delicious waffle restaurant that was just plain awesome. I got to have a lovely and crispy waffle with light and fluffy whipped cream and real maple syrup on top. Absolutely delicious... :3 

Today, we went to the market at Wazzemmes again. If you want cheap stuff, there's the place to go. I bought some clothing there (I don't expect it to last long, but wow, it looks cool while it's still intact), and a bunch of really awesome 1€ or 2€ scarves. Please, act surprised when I give them to you as souvenirs. :) They look really pretty when worn, or even just hung up in the wind or on the wall. I didn't pick any with too many sequins, as those ones are itchy and they hurt. D:

...So tomorrow I actually have to go back to class. Darn it! ;_; Don't worry, in between hopping from here to Belgium, I actually have been doing my homework. ;)

Day 17

Jun. 18th, 2008 08:48 pm
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Day 17

Ha! So I totally just realized that my camera has a little icon on it that tells you the date, time, and how long you've been on your trip. :) So now I can say with certainty that I've been gone for 17 days. 

So guess what! I have actually just found out that one of the dishes that I've been having for supper for several weeks (well, I've eaten it like three or four times) in the university restaurant is actually the famous Ratatouille! Who knew? I just thought that it tasted good. I've never enjoyed eating cucumbers so much in my life. :3 If anybody gets a chance to try any, do so! It's delicious. :)

...Now I should really start thinking about buying souvenirs for people. D: I've also got a stack of postcards that need to be addressed, written and stamped... Must... get to... work...

Through a strange coincidence, I met a really nice French person! (Well, I don't mean to imply that very few French people are nice, because that's not true. I just mean it's strange that, well, okay I'll just tell you, hold on, I'll close this parenthesis.) Anyway, I was just about to unlock the door to my dorm room when the girl from the room across from me stopped me and asked if I was Canadian (in French, of course). I was like "oui, bien sure", and she asked where I was from, and I answered "Edmonton", and she then asked if I wouldn't happen to be going to "l'Université d'Alberta"? And so apprently she just got her acceptance to study at our fine university for a year, starting this September! :D We switched e-mails, and I shall help her decipher Bear Tracks, learn English, etc. :) Her name is Maialen, I believe (I hope I spelt that correctly). She's actually going to Canada before I return! So, if any of you run across a lost French woman on campus next week, please help her, because she's really nice!

Yesterday, we visited Douai and a nearby mining museum. We were only in Douai for an hour, so we didn't see much. I would have liked to have gone inside the churches that we passed by, but all we really had time to do was pop into bakeries. Mmm, croissants...

The mining museum was awesome, too. :) Our tourguide was an actual retired miner, so he had this grizzled look about him... plus, he knew his stuff. Unfortunately for half of the group (the anglophone half ;) ), he only spoke French. The cool thing was, they had what they called an "appareil" (an aparatus), which was essentially a speaker. They pressed buttons at certain intervals, and a friendly British woman's voice explained to us what we were seeing. I understood the miner perfectly well (he was very clear and well-spoken), and he was fascinating to listen to. :) Apparently, he began working in the mines in the 60s when he was just 15. I got a photograph with him, which I shall post later... 

(Oh, and while I'm on the subject of photographs, I've uploaded the first batch of pictures from my trip! (They are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to photographs, but the other six hundred or so that I've taken don't have many people in them, so...) You can see them here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=125259&l=7429f&id=839240415 (hopefully, everyone can see it...)

Anyway, one of the cool things about the mining museum is that they're very serious about it. They give us hardhats, put us in the elevator, and we descend into the mine itself.... except we only descend one floor, but they don't tell you that. ;) They have an elaborate reconstruction of a mine, which is very widespread. My suspicions were only aroused about twenty minutes into the tour, when I began seeing emergency exists. "But how can they exist underground?" I asked myself "If we're 400m below the surface of the Earth, where do those stairs lead? To an endless flight of stairs?" ;) But yes, you aren't supposed to realize until they get you out the door into the bright sunlight again that you were never in the mine in the first place. It's sweet. :D

Tomorrow, we go to Ypres. :) I'm happy that I picked Ypres (we had a choice between there and Dunkerque), because we shall be inside museums all day, and the forecast is apparently very gloomy. I am told that Dunkerque is very miserable if there's even a spot of rain, because you're essentially on the beach the whole time. Plus, the awesome British history professor, Martin Bray, is accompanying the Ypres group, so hopefully I shall learn some intriguing historical facts! :D

Day 15

Jun. 16th, 2008 11:07 pm
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Day 15 (and other pleasantries)

Not only am I learning French, in France, but also English! :D Here's a random linguistic note that may interest a few people of my acquaintance... ever wonder why it's "chair" in English but "chaise" in French? Well, they were originally the same word (according to one of my two French professors). You see, way back when, apparently all the "r"s in French were trilled, like in Spanish. But after a while, the nobles in France decided that this sounded vulgar, and experimented with other sounds, like "y" and "z", instead of thoes trilled "r"s. But it was all very silly, and the Revolution put a stop to that concept (as it put a stop to many of those same nobles). From then on, most "r"s were pronounced the way they are now (Danielle dearest, could you provide me with the linguistic charts? ;) I cannot explain!) There are a few layovers from this time of experimentation, however... mostly just the word "chaise", though - the "z" sound replacing the "r"... as in "chair", which would have been brought over to England with the Normans, before they started with all of this linguistic business. Now you know...

Anyway, I hope to be brief, as it's quarter after eleven at night over here, and I'm tired. Last weekend, we managed to splice together a last minute trip to Amsterdam! Myself and six others went, entirely planned on our own. We randomly found a really nice hostel (Hotel Slotania (sp?) - thank you, hostelworld.com! :D ) which was about 20 minutes from all of the interesting stuff in the city centre. It was far enough away that we didn't feel like we were right on top of the Red Light district, which was really reassuring. The trams and the busses were really efficient (and clean!) and everybody... and I mean everybody spoke English. Hurrah for the Dutch education system and it's emphasis on learning like minimum three languages! :D Banzai!

We ate dinner at a really lovely Indian restaurant Saturday night, which I totally reccomend to everyone reading this... except that I totally cannot recall it's name. D: Well, my only option is to take a bunch of you on a trip to Amsterdam to show you which one I mean. :3 

On Sunday, we went to the Rijkmuseum, which is awesome. We only really saw the Dutch history gallery (we were short on time), but what we saw there was gorgeous. :D Beside every work was a little explanatory plaque, which gave little interesting details (beyond just the title and the name of the artist) in Dutch and English - like, some of the paintings portrayed hunters showing off their game to ladies, which was apparently a metaphor in the 1600s in Dutch ("birding" = "courting a mistress"). I really loved the Rembrant paintings, but everything was so detailed and lovely and symbolic and gorgeous and oh! It was wonderful. If you're ever in Amsterdam, this is one museum to mark on the list. Thank you for reccomending it, dad! :D

We also visited the Van Gogh museum, but after seeing the detailed art at the Rijkmuseum, I wasn't as fussed about his art style. Plus, this museum was much more crowded, and it was also where Heeran and I got separated from the others, so I wasn't very endeared with the place. Heeran and I ended up waiting for half an hour in the entranceway of the museum, waiting for the others (who had left without us, due to a misunderstanding). We then waited outside Madame Tussauds, because that was where they had been heading, for an hour and a half, because we were worried that they'd come out the exit just as we went in. (Plus, it was really crowded). I wish that we had gone in, now... but I suppose that much of the displays I would have seen at the one in Victoria. We did meet up with the others at the train station, where we waited for another 45 minutes.

We didn't spend the whole day waiting for the others. We did stop by a nice shoe store, where I bought some awesome boots. :3 We also watched a street performer from New Zealand do his "juggling fire torches on a 10 foot tall unicycle while blindfolded" act, but he was really, really good at it. Plus, his accent was awesome, and he was witty. :)

Oh, and yes, on Saturday we did indeed visit the Red Light district. In broad daylight. I was going to call you, mum, and say "Hey, guess where I am" but I couldn't figure out how to use the Dutch public phones. ;) Oh, and mum, before my minutes ran out when I called you yesterday, what I meant to say was "tell dad I said happy father's day!" ... I suppose that dad's reading this entry too, so.... HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, FATHER DEAREST! :D

...and that's all for now.

Day 10

Jun. 12th, 2008 10:09 pm
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Okay, I'm pretty sure that it's day ten... anyway, now everything's going to be arbitrarily so many days away from today, which is now "Day 10" of my trip... even if it isn't. What is reality, anyway...? D:

Last night, I saw a wild rat for the first time. I was walking back to my dorm, searching in my purse for my keys (and, incidentally, thinking that my wallet had been stolen for all of five seconds before realizing that I was holding it in my other hand), and I saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked, and I saw a rat dissapearing underneathe a bridge. D: I was kind of creeped out, but I suppose that it's normal for a large city to have vermin inhabitants as well...?

Back to more pleasant subjects... Brugge was awesome. :3 As I mentioned in my last post, it's "the Venice of the North", and it really is a gorgeous city. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning and opened the window to look out upon torrential rain. D: It actually wasn't too bad in Belgium, alternating as it was between "tsunami"-like train and clear skies, then back again, sometimes all within fifteen minutes. 

The city itself was about one hour's bus ride away from Lille. The bus was late getting there, but we still had to leave on time, so we ended up only having about two and a half hours in Brugge, nearly 45 minutes of which was taken up by a boat tour... which was nearly pointless, as we were all huddling underneathe our umbrellas and as a result hardly saw anything. (We did discover that Brugge has extremely low bridges. One of them had litterally less than a meter of clearance. Cool.) So... that left us with less than two hours of time to explore this beautiful city. 

That was very mean. Seriously, I would have been quite happy with a week to explore. Two hours is just teasing - "Here is the awesomeness that is Brugge! Look around, see the sights! ... but make sure you're back at the clocktower right away, or you'll miss the bus and be stranded!" I didn't get to go up to see the view from the famous clocktower, I didn't get to go see Michelangelo's Mary, didn't get to go find some nice lace (Brugge is famous for it's lace, as is much of Belgium), didn't find that one scarf shop that several people reccomended, hardly glanced into any shops... D: I was there for just long enough to see how much I was missing. 

On the plus side, Yan and I have decided that one of our weekend trips will now be to Brugge. We need more time there. 

I'm not saying that my trip today was a waste. It was awesome (I have like 400 photographs of various sights, mostly Flemish roofs). I did manage to buy some Belgian chocolates, which I shall eat pretty soon (we're going to Brussels in a few weeks, so don't worry, my dearest family, I shall return with some Belgian chocolates from there for you!), some really nice specialty tea from an awesome tea shop, and at least 8 post cards (one of them is shaped like a waffle! and another like a box of chocolates!). So yes, I am determined to return to Brugges. 

Also, we're still planning on what to do this weekend. We're hoping for Amsterdam, and we've been looking at train tickets and hostels online... but nothing's been finalized. I really must get on that...
I must now sleep. I am quite tired...

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