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(Edit: I feel that I need a more "jubilantly" happy icon as opposed to "mildly positive". Hmm... Suggestions?)

 Huzzah! This doesn't mean I'm free, though, or that I even am finished all of my scholarly pursuits for the semester. Here is my to do list:

-apply for teaching assistant jobs abroad/in Quebec (I have three on my list)
-WORK ON THESIS. I have a bunch of books checked out, and they need readin'. Also, I should get some writing done. 
-repair the tears in my favourite winter coat (along the seam of the pocket, the inside of the lining of the shoulder)
-RELAX AND ENJOY LIFE
-Also, bake cookies! Here is an amazing recipe that they use to bake cookies at Henderson house on 1905 street at Fort Edmonton, which they have been baking every night I've worked Christmas reflections (and were kind enough to give me a copy of the recipe):

Fort Edmonton Shortbread (from an Edwardian-era recipe)
(For best results, of course, use a cast-iron wood burning stove, but as this isn't an ideal world I've included modern temperatures)

Ingredients
-1/2 cup cornstarch
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1 cup butter
- 3/4 cup icing sugar.

1) Mix butter with icing sugar
2) To the above mixture, mix in corn starch and flour to make a soft dough
3) Roll out the dough, and punch out your cookie shapes 
4)Using a moderate heat (300F) bake for 8 minutes

Then let cool, of course (they stick the entire pan out the side door to sit on the snow for a few minutes), and OMNOMNOM. No regrets! 
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We celebrate Thanksgiving, but in October, as Canadians will. I think that the timing really speaks to what it means to the majority of us up here in the frozen white North. It's a harvest festival, a time to celebrate what we have (and be thankful for it) before the long cold winter (and therefore shortages of food) comes. 

(In case I didn't make the connection clear: the further North you go, the shorter the growing season, therefore the earlier harvest is. As I think you may have gathered from whining I've done on this blog before about Canadian weather, winter can sometimes come before fall even really seems to start.)

For us, it's a time in which our family (all five of us - my extended family is scattered across North America and Europe) work together to clean the house, cook the meal, eat together and talk for hours. We're not the kind of family to say grace before a meal, but we always go around the table before we eat (even as we stare, hungrily, at our turkey and vegetables and such, having starved ourselves for most of the day since breakfast) and talk about things that we're thankful for: the fact that my little brother is still in remission, the fact that we haven't been as hard-hit by the economy as some (the government will always seem to need nurses and military engineers), the fact that we haven't lost anybody close to us in a while... It's generally a good time.

This year, dad was, unfortunately, away, and as he's the one who normally cooks the turkey, and mum was still mighty busy at work, I took it upon myself to bake the turkey and create a lot of the veggie dishes. I'm proud to report that it was a success! The largest thing I've ever cooked. :) We had delicious leftover sandwiches for days. 

Our meal included a turkey with stuffing (I rubbed the skin with butter, pepper and paprika), gravy, scalloped potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, and others... plus a pumpkin pie for dessert. We generally only make enough to last us for two or three days in leftovers: most gets eaten. 

I know that there are nasty stereotypes associated with Thanksgiving, especially in the states (see: historically inaccurate pilgrims in stove-top hats and buckled shoes being helped by the natives whom they eventually wiped out due to disease), but that meaning is sort of divorced from our current experience. And hey, I celebrate Christmas, thinking of it more as an opportunity to do good by my family and enjoy the winter season than specifically as a celebration of the birth of Christ. 

So happy (belated) Thanksgiving out to my American friends!

(... and now I'll throw myself back into homework. :P )
beboots: (confusion)
Warning: this post is rated PG-13 for gore. 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it to you guys before, but my dad goes hunting every autumn. To forestall any knee-jerk "but killing animals is bad!" reactions, let me say this: my family has immense respect for animals. That's one of the reasons we eat far more venison (AKA deer meat) than, say, store bought beef or pork. I mean, at least the deer got to live free and run around and enjoy life for several years before being killed, as opposed to being stuck in a pen and fattened up for two years before being killed and butchered by uncaring workers, right? Also, we use far more of the animal than they ever would. Sometimes we even give the skin to a leatherworker my dad knows for tanning and such. 

Also, this time, I asked dad to save the sinew from the back of the animals for use at the fort next year. It's drying on a plastic clothes hanger in the kitchen right now. 

Also, venison is delicious. 

I admit that it's a little bit gorey to be doing the butchering yourself, but if you get squeamish about being confronted with the origins of your food, then you probably shouldn't be eating the finished product. My dad got three deer last week (and yes, he does have deer tags): a mule deer buck and doe, as well as a white-tailed doe. The buck was absolutely GIGANTIC, I swear. I didn't go out and take any photographs this time, because, uh, my dad had already skinned them, except for their heads, and it's a bit too much to be posting on this blog, I think. ;) Also, for some reason, according to my dad, almost all deer, when they die, stick their tongues out. Like, the stereotypical, sideways tongue position: :P It's kind of creepy. Also, my dad has hung them in the garage, so when I go in there from the house to toss something in the recycling bin they stare at you, dangling in the dim light. 

Anyway, I just spent some time helping dad with the butcher paper, taping up the bundles of meat and labelling them (you know, MDB (Mule Deer Buck), Nov (20)10, tenderloin/stew meat/roast/whatever". But holy crap it just hit home again how HUGE that buck was. When you picture a deer, you almost think delicate, right? Especially the does? I've always really pictured does as being almost the same size as me, in the torso and neck, right? Well, that buck... Holy crap. I just helped dad make like three or four SEPARATE roasts out of his neck. The neck itself was like bigger than my own torso. 

I should also mention that this beast was so powerful he almost took my dad out after the deer actually died. No joke. He and his friend (an old man who goes by the name of "Stoney") had parked the truck just downhill from the deer, and even after cleaning it out it was ridiculously heavy and hard to lift into the truck. So dad got on the truck bed to lift from there as Stoney went to lift from below, and when they actually got it in the truck bed after several heaves, because of the slope of the hill the body actually slid back, pushing dad back too, and the antlers (which are pretty sharp!) actually pinned around one of dad's legs. If it had been a few inches to the side... there are big arteries in the thigh area, and they were a few hours away from a decent hospital. It could have been bad. The deer's vengeful spirit, anyone? 

I apologize if some people were a bit squicked out by this post, but I thought that I'd talk about something a bit stranger that marks Canadians as a bit different. Not all Canadians are even hunters, of course, and I make no pretensions at this being a purely Canadian endeavour! ;) I should also mention that most of the firearms owned in this country (I believe) belong to hunters and not necessarily to urban dwellers for domestic defense, as is the case in the states. But anyway I think that hunting something different that needs to be talked about frankly. It's not a weird fringe thing to be looked down upon by celebrities in their faux-fur coats. 

Also, if you're living in the Edmonton area, we have loads of venison! Stop by if you want to partake; my dad is very generous at handing out roast and stew meats! :) He'll also break out the jerky-maker later on when we have a good sunny day. :)
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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Hello, everyone on my friends list! I had a few quick questions for you all. 

I've been thinking, lately, of "Canadian culture" (if such a thing exists, and I think that it does), and what you really think of as defining a person's culture. One of those things is the food they eat. And I got to thinking: maybe some of my favourite foods, things that are so omnipresent in grocery stores all around Canada, aren't as common as I think that they are!

So, tell me: have you heard of all of these food products? Have you ever tried them? What did you think of them, and how were they served? (AKA what kind of toppings/side dishes?) What are your favourite local foods?

(Just to clarify, I live in Western Canada, but I have lived in Ontario, very near to Quebec, so I'm also familiar with French Canadian culture... but these foods are all found in Western Canada too.)

-Perogies (Holy crap the interwebs don't even recognize this spelling! It's on all of the bags!) AKA lovely potato dumplings sometimes stuffed with cheese and other things, boiled, often eaten fried with butter and onions, and topped with bacon bits and sour cream. Maybe I only know it because we have the largest population of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine here in Western Canada...?

-Pumpkin pie. In fact, pumpkins in general. Not squashes. Pumpkins - the kind you make into Jack-o-Lanterns. (Also edible!) Has anybody outside of North America ever had baked pumpkin seeds? (One of the best non-candy Hallowe'en snacks there is, and they're just the leftovers from making art!)

-Maple syrup. Maple candies. Maple anything. I know that pancakes and waffles exist outside of Canada... but what do you put on it if maple syrup isn't available? Just cream or something? How easy is it to get maple syrup outside of Canada? Pancakes + maple syrup is such a ubiquitous combination here that anything else is just plain WEIRD. 
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I have a bare 5 minutes left of paid internet time at a tourist info place in Portree, on the Isle of Skye, so I'll just post this to let everyone know that our tiny little plane didn't crash into the sea or anything!

In fact, Sara and I have been very much enjoying ourselves in the islands! :D I have about three or four posts written up on my iPod detailling our adventures (surprisingly few misadventures involved, I rescind any negative ideas I held about the islands before today), and I'll be spamming all of your inboxes with them as soon as I have access to free wifi. That could be tomorrow when we move to Armadale, or in three days when we get to Inverness. We'll see!

We're having an adventure. The sun is shining, the birds are singing (literally), and I love being served toasties with brie and cranberries. :)
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... ;)

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 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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