Monday, October 27, 2008

Enough Procrastination...time for an update

Okay, so I got back to Paris last Wednesday evening and decided that today should be the day that I actually write about my trip to Central Europe. First of all, it's not Eastern Europe like we Americans insist on calling it.  It's Central!  I guess Eastern would consist of Ukraine, Belaruse, Lithuania to name a few.   

My first stop took me to the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria.  On my plane ride over I started thinking to myself...oh my goodness, I don't even know what language they speak there.  I have never gone to another country without brushing up a little on the background and history of wherever it is I'm going. I knew that they used the Euro and that I would not be losing any money to change it over.  Gracias a Dios! But after getting my brain in full gear, I was able to remember that they speak German in Austria.  (the directions I had from the internet to my hostel were very helpful in aiding my ignorance)   So after I realized that the only words I knew how to say in German were Guten Morgen (excuse the bad spelling, I'm just going with phonetics on this one) Ya!, Dad Goot, and Danka, I was prepared for my random adventure into Europe. My first day was a rather lonely one for a few hours. I walked from the hostel all the way to the city center which took about an hour.  The buildings in the center were absolutely amazing and as I was tired, I took refuge in the beautiful St. Stefan Cathedral.  It was at this point that I suddenly realized, that duh...Austro-Hungarian Empire! The Hapsburgs!  This was a family that ruled not just over Austria and Hungary, but had an amazing alliance with the Spanish and England. Basically, everyone in this area of the world, excluding the French, was a Hapsburg. Very powerful family.  Now, when I get up the motivation to upload the photos, I'll let you all know.  For now I will let you see the most amazing picture of all.  If you know me, then you know I like Star Wars, and this VW van is sporting the most amazing symbol of all time.  Vienna was fantastic, but seeing this on my last night in town made me rethink where my priorities lie.  Back in the US or shacked up with whoever owned that van.  I could become Austrian! But, only in California does George Lucas have the Skywalker Ranch.  I gotta stick with my compadres!  The Force was with me that night and I knew that the rest of the trip would be amazing.  

Also, Vienna introduced me to a traveling companion by the name of Alexandra. And as luck would have it, she was from France.  (Little side note, when I took French in High School, the name I chose for myself was Alexandra.) She was very sweet and in her meager 24 years of life she has traveled the world.  She was very cool and made my trip not so lonely.  She had planned on spending two entire weeks traveling around Austria, but when she found out I was going to Prague and how close it was, she decided to come along.  When we got to Prague, she decided that going to Krakow and to Auschwitz was something that she was obliged to do.  She spoke excellent English which was a bit unfortunate for me because I wanted to practice French.  But as it is, in Europe everyone wants to speak English.  We native English speakers have it so easy and I find it a bit unfortunate because we don't HAVE to immerse ourselves, we don't HAVE to learn. We just expect the world to bow to us.  It's quite understandable why everyone hates Americans.  I'm not trying to put all the blame on my compatriots, but there is a problem with globalization and you'll have to read my other blog to know my opinion on that.  Sorry, I kind of got off track.  I will say this: being from the Big Ole Melting pot of the American continent sure has made it easy to recognize the types of foods that they eat throughout the rest of the world and accepting of it!  But I don't think a better goulash could come from anywhere else other than Austria.  Or beer for that matter!  Okay...enough for today!

Log on tomorrow for an update on Prague, not my most favorite city, but definitely worth it.
Also, I may be motivated enough to add a little history about Vienna.

A Bientot mes Amis!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Off with their heads Part Deux

Okay so uploading pictures to show on a blog is super difficult. SOOO...I created a movie of my pictures and you can check it out below.  It's super easy, just click on the link I created. 

If it doesn't work, just go to and create a log in. It's very easy and anybody can do it.  If I had a website, I'd say just go there, but I don't. So solly!

As an update, I am in Krakow, Poland right now and will be visiting Auschwitz tomorrow.  For the past week I have been traveling through Central Europe. I have visited Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; & now Krakow.  I will be returning to Paris on Wednesday.  Traveling in this part of Europe is relatively cheap compared to France.  You can get from Prague to Krakow (which is an 8 hour trip) for 29 Euros, approximately $38.  Not bad.  If you want to travel for just 3 hours in France on the TGV, you pay about 70 Euros, or $93.  And the food and drinks are super cheap.  Austria has been the only place that uses the Euro.  Thank goodness!

Anyway, when I get back to Paris and I've gotten enough sleep, I will definitely be updating this blog.  See you all soon...I hope!

A Bientot! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Off with their heads...A trip to Versailles

I've been to Versailles before and I hadn't been planning a trip this time around, but my friend Jason told me about a special exhibit by Jeff Koons.  Turns out, it was well worth it.  Last year my sister Alex and I visited the palace (chateau) and hung out in the gardens. We walked around the gardens by Marie Antoinette's estate and had a humdinger of a time.  That day while we were touring the palace it stormed and when we got to the gardens, the fragrance of the flowers mixed with the rain was overwhelming and made the visit a full sensory experience.  My visit yesterday was different as I wasn't able to share it with anybody, it was very lonely. So, I thought I'd share my day with you all through the pictures I took.

Versailles was much more different than last year and I'm assuming the exhibits and rooms open for viewing vary all the time.  It was like I had never been there before. The original gold gate had been restored and put back in its original place.  And I had thought the gate last year was the original...I was wrong!  Versailles was basically sacked during the Revolution and the original art and furniture was sold at auction. Right after the end of the Revolution and during the past two centuries the restorations have been ongoing.  Much of the original artwork has know what, if you want to know the history of Versailles check out this website:  History of Versailles 

Okay, I don't feel like check out my pictures until I feel like writing.  It might take a little while. Uploading photos take a minute.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Eye of the Tiger in England

Whew, I was able to get out of working for the crazy French family last week and have been in Paris since Sunday.  Well, kind of.  On Tuesday I took a quick trip to England to meet up with my friend Dave from Kansas City who was touring with the very awesome band, the Republic Tigers. I knew that Dave was running the sound for the Tigers, but I wasn't aware that he was the tour manager/manager of everything getting done.  Needless to say, Dave was a very busy man in England and was highly focused on his job.  We got to hang out a little and most importantly I got to see two great shows, one in Sheffield and the other in London.  

I have only seen the Republic Tigers play once in KC and it was rather random how I got to that show.  I was hanging out with the guy I was dating at the time and was debating whether I should go train for the marathon I was about to run.  He and I grabbed a Pitch Weekly, and decided that the Brick was the place to go.  I was wearing my running clothes, which consisted of a hoodie, t-shirt over a sports bra, and running pants!  I tell you, I did not look fantastic that evening, but whatever, I got to see a local band perform like I'd never seen before.  The sound wasn't distorted, it was pristine to my ears.  Over the past year I have been wanting to see them again and the occasion never presented itself.  Maybe if I could get over this fear of going to bars by myself, I would have been able to experience the electricity of their music.  As luck would have it, the Republic Tigers crossed the great Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom exactly one week after I had made the venture to France.  Things were a little complicated for Dave and the Tigers at first and it didn't seem possible that I would be able to catch them in England.  If I would have continued with my job, I would not have been able to make the voyage over.

I've never hung out with a band in the way that I did the past two days, but I must say that it was quite an experience, and not a bad one.  When people think of musicians, they think "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll."  There was definitely the rock 'n roll, but not the former two. Who knows, maybe the boys were on their best behavior because there was a girl present.  I didn't see any of them "mackin' on any girls," and if they were, it wasn't noticeable.  I know that a few of them have girlfriends back home and if any of them read this, I just want to let them know that their boys were good! So the Tigers are definitely not your stereotypical bad boy band members.  In fact, they were so professional with what they were doing, that I left highly impressed with them all.  They all have dreams of making it big like most bands, but its interesting to see them being proactive and taking it seriously.  I think that they are all smart about what they are doing and being responsible with the business aspect of it.  So, I must say that I have a newfound respect for musicians, particularly these. 

Check out their photo blog, you'll get a sense of their trip.  Republic Tigers in the UK

The only person I had a problem with was the door man, he said I was there to "cheer" the band on, said with a wink. When I asked him what he was trying to insinuate, he only said I could well imagine.  Trust me though, I'm no "band-aid." I did however help carry a few things and the burnt CDs are in my handwriting. I figured if I got an all access pass, then I could help them out a little bit.

So, I got to see a little bit of London and I'm wondering if the whole place is always so crowded. I spent about two hours walking down Oxford Street near Soho and the place was incredibly packed. They had more stores than the Champs-Elysees and more people on top of that.  It was almost too crowded, to the point of uncomfortable.  The concert was at the Astoria, and you would never know it was a theater from the outside.  I didn't get to see Big Ben, or Buckingham Palace, but I'm okay with that.  I saw Trafalgar Square and the top of the Eye Ferris Wheel that is on the Thames.  I always thought there were too many tourists in Paris, but I think London's got it beat.  

So, now I'm back in Paris and planning my next leg.  Tomorrow I'm heading to Versailles to walk around for several hours and to check out an art showing that my friend Jason told me about.  Next Thursday I'm going to Vienna, then to Prague, and then to Krakow. That might not be the right order, but Vienna is definitely the first and last stop.  I'll keep you all posted as I make my journey.  I'll be home eventually, but changing an awards ticket is rather difficult as they only have so many seats available for travel.  I'll keep everyone posted in the next couple of days about my adventure.  See you all soon! A Bientot!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bloody Noses and Yu-Gi-Oh!

Good day my beautiful friends...or should I say happy end of the Thursday workday!  Oh la la as they say here in France!

My day is coming to an end as well and I'm not feeling as stressed as I was before.   I can tell because my pubescent acne is clearing up.  I can't believe I've had such skin problems.  That's not my point though. I just wanted to "touch base" with everyone (I always dislike it when people use that phrase, but whatever, it works here) to let you know about my goings and doings this week. 

I got back to Colmar on Tuesday with the family from Paris and things started out just as hectically as before.  I wonder if there has ever been any real order for this household. Probably not.  First things first! Bloody noses, I had no idea the climate in France was so dry.  I have had a bloody nose at least once a day for the past week.  I guess I need to go to the Pharmacy to purchase some Vaseline or something!  I tell you though, last week I bought fingernail clippers and dental floss for 12 Euros, or about $15.  That's the most expensive purchase I've ever mad for two items at a pharmacy.  C'est la vie I guess!  Thankfully I brought chapstick and my lips are still nice and smooth, NO flaking!  Too bad I've got nobody to make out with.  I'm sure I could chose any one of the hot French men that tend to ogle my cute blonde hair, but I think I'll stay away.  They can only mean one thing: Trouble!  And that's one thing I WILL stay away from. 

Now for Yu-Gi-Oh.  We have so many problems with petit Francois that I chose to hide the Yu-Gi-Oh cards today.  And voila! He hasn't asked for them, at all. He got his homework done in a timely manner, before nine.  Ate dinner, took a shower (after much prodding) and went to bed. Thank the good sweet Lord!  

So its 11:19 and I must be up in exactly 7 hours to take Francois to school.  Things could be worse I suppose, but I must try to keep a somewhat positive outlook.  A bientot!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Je suis a Paris

After a week in lovely Colmar, France, I am back in good old Paris enjoying the temperate climate.  On Sunday, September 21st, I arrived at my new home in Colmar.  The entire week was pretty miserable as it was super cold. I brought a winter coat with me, but didn't want to break it out quite yet as I don't want to get too used to it. So, I had to go out and buy a brand new lighter coat to keep the cold out.  Brrr!  The house where I'm staying has another girl to help with the household duties, although I don't think its entirely necessary.  Oh wait, I should say, I didn't think it could be entirely necessary.  We are watching a nine year old boy, that couldn't be too hard, right?  Absolutely wrong I am!  The boy is a nightmare.  I should probably add that the family is rich....let me back track and describe this family.

Les "Bourbons" as I will call them, are a married couple, but the wife lives in Paris.  Mr. Bourbon owns two houses (or apartments, people don't live in houses in Paris) one for himself and his travels to town and one for his wife.  The wife is a 31 year old Brazilian and has a petit-ami.  AKA a boyfriend.  She isn't allowed, or more like, she doesn't ever come to Colmar.  I don't think Dad minds, but there seems to be a continuous competition between Mom and Dad with pauvre Francois and the boy in return has become a spoiled Yu-Gi-Oh lovin' brat!  

So, back in Colmar, we, the au pairs, are at the beck and call of this little boy.  He doesn't pick up after himself and isn't forced to.  Doesn't do his homework alone, and isn't forced to.  There are many things this child doesn't have to do, including, wiping his ass.  I'm serious!  He knows how to do it, but if his father is around, he requests it to be done by him.  Ugh!  So because petit Francois gets away with murder.  And over the course of one week, I have had CDs thrown at me when I told the boy HE MUST do his homework and a book thrown at me the very next day for telling him HE MUST get out of bed to go to school. 

Needless to say, I don't like the job.  The other girl doesn't either, but because she is Belarussian and wants desperately to get her legal working papers, she will put up with it. The question for me is, do I want to put up with it?  I could care less about being a legal French worker.  I'm an American with two degrees, I can work wherever.  I know the economy is bad right now, but I'm not too worried about finding work.  So the question is this: Do I stay and endure this horrific situation, or do I pack up and leave.  If I stick with the former, I don't spend much of my own money. Lovely, I don't like to spend money anyway.  The latter: I wouldn't come home right away, I would travel to Eastern Europe for a few weeks and then come home.  What a predicament huh? The Eastern Europe option is looking pretty good because it isn't high season anymore and its cheaper over there.  France is not cheap. As much as I'd love to travel around this country because I speak the language better, it is not financially feasible. I'm going to stick it out for at least a month and then we'll see.  

For now, I will enjoy Paris. Check out this picture of what is outside the window where I'm staying.  That's right! Le Tour Eiffel!  I guess I should mention that I'm staying with my boss from Hy-Vee's nephew.  He's an interesting individual and he thinks he's French now because he's lived here for 3 years now.  C'est la vie I guess!

A bientot mes amis...til next time!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The other day on the bus

I spent one of my last evenings out with Jason and we went to the new fancy Power & Light District. We had dinner at Flying Saucer where they have
130 beers on tap (my kind of place). Then we went to Lucky Strike which I guess is supposed to be some high class bowling alley.  It was a nice place, but way to yuppie for me. I like my bowling alleys grungy.  When we left, the circus was getting out at the Sprint Center and I was like, "take me to the circus Jason."
 Well, that didn't happen so we
 went to "The Zoo" instead.  Fancy hole in the wall bar with an awesome juke box.  The rest of the night is history...but that isn't what this is about.

The bus ride is what got me.  It was a dreary wet evening and the bus was crowded with rain drenched riders.  The faces of those riding the bus was that of solitude.  A sea of faces going around and around in their little lives. I don't want to minimize the richness of everyone's lives, but I was saddened to know that as humans we travel in circles of routine.  I thought about my friends and how we love and support each other.  Our lives are entertaining and we truly enjoy each other.  I'm breaking out of the mold of the circle and venturing off to a small town in Northern France called Colmar.  I've left behind my safety net of friends. I've left my grandparents who have always played such an integral part in my life. I've left the boy (I guess man is more appropriate) I met only 6 weeks ago who I was trying hard not to get to close to, but failed miserably at.  Do I need to go to France for 9 months?  I do because we get so wrapped up in the smallness of our lives that we believe are gigantic.  We've got one chance to make our lives worthwhile. Only a hundred years ago, we were not able to move about the planet as we do now.  I only have 2 reasons to stay in Kansas City, my friends and my family.  A third one was making it's way into the picture too.  Re-reading this makes me seem heartless because I have no real reason to go other than not wanting to have that feeling of regret.  But does regret outweigh friends and family?  I'm not sure.  All three things will be with you for life. Regret is the only one that can be avoided. Family and friends will come back once you eliminate the awful feeling that you may one day regret not going after  your dreams. 

 I love my Kansas City, I love my friends, I love my family.  I'm going to France because I know my friends will always be there when I return.