Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beginner French

When I arrived in the Nice train station I decided that Marseille was a good option, and would bring me closer to Spain. So I hopped on the next train and off I went! When I arrived I it was mid-afternoon, hot and I had no clue where I would sleep. So I got a map, and directions to the closest Internet point, so I could at least find out options. On my way to the Internet point I saw two fellow backpackers sitting in front of a
market. I asked them if they had just got to Marseille. Lucky for me, they had, and so I followed them to their hostel! I spent the next four nights in marseille. The girls I befriended are two swedish girls who were living in paris, Tove and Martina. Marseille was nice, but the beaches weren't that great and you can only spend so many days wondering with a camera around your neck. Luckily I had heard back from a couchsurfing duo in Avignon! So that's where I headed next, even though it changed my plans about going closer to Spain! I was met at the Avignon train station by France! Her roomate and best friend since they were 12, Laurence was waiting outside with the van. She took my oversized backpack off my hands, leaving France and I free to roam the city centre while Laurence ran errands with her son Antoine. Laurence met up with us a few hours later and we all headed home for a delscious homecooked meal! I only stayed for one night in Avignon, but France and Laurence went far out of their way to make my stay comfortable. The morning I left Laurence and I were the first to wake so we walked to the bakery across the street to get fresh croissants and pain au chocolat! Laurence doesn't speak English as well as France does, so all of our conversations consist of her speaking French and me responding in English. Because we can both understand the language when it's spoke to us, but responding is a bit tricky...but it worked out perfect for us. After breakfast France helped me load my photos online so I wouldn't risk loosing them, and she even burnt a cd of pictures to send home to my parents just invade something happened, we also book swapped. I gave her the book I had just finished and she gave me two novels she had, both set in France! They are two books written by the authors who wrote the books turned into movies...a good year with Russell crowe, and love actually...which is more of a Christmas movie. This quick and pleasant stopover in Avignon was ended by the whole family waiting with me on the platform for my train to arrive.
I was headed to Lyon! I had heard back from a couchsurfer who had room available for me. His name is Romain, a Lyon native! He has been couchsurfing for five years! So I fit into hos routine very well. He gave me spare keys to his apt for everyday he was at work and and cooked the most amazing food or dinner while I was here too, every meal was accompanied by a specially selected bottle of wine from his cellar containing over 200! Needless to say it's been a good visit to Lyon. Yesterday I spotted a guidebook for eastern europe in romains living room, which I took as a sign. So today, instead of heading further north towards
Dijon and paris, I am going east to Switzerland! tonight I will be staying with a fellow couchsurfer in Lausanne, Switzerland!

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After leaving Laura, I safely made my way from Noli, Italy to Nice, France. When I left Noli that morning I had no idea where I would be sleeping that night, so right when I got off the train in Nice I headed straight to the info desk. I asked where the closest hostel was and I thanked them and headed towards the door, before I stepped out of the building I heard someone say "what part of Canada are you from?" in reference to my canadian flag patch on my pack. I turned around and was pleased to see another Canadian backpacker, who happened to be fumbling with a rugby ball (common interest!) I explained my situation to him and he told me that I should follow him to the hostel he was staying at, just to be sure I wouldn't end up sleeping in a train station. So Alex (from white rock BC) and I made our way to the youth hostel. Unfortunatley on our way to the hostel alex got mugged on the tram, which put an immediate damper on our first impression of Nice. When we arrived I helped figure out Alex's new money problems, which thankfully were not too difficult to handle. I was also lucky in that there was one spot left at the hostel! I dropped my gear off in my room and then headed to the common area to see what was going on. I ended up meeting 3 girls from Norway, 3 guys from England and a guy from Denver, but who plays lacrosse professionally in Canada! The next morning I found out that the hostel was full and there was already a waiting list for rooms, I took that as a sign, and I packed up my stuff and headed back to the train station...again without a destination or place to sleep!

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Feed Me

I left Ireland on the 3rd of July and flew into Milan, Italy! When I stepped off the plane a wave of heat hit me instantly. I made my way through customs with a breeze and picked up my pack. It was one hour long bus ride, and a two and a half hour train ride before I made it to Torino. When I arrived at the station in Torino I was greeted by Laura and Bene. Laura is a friend from Acadia and Bene is the younger sister of the father that Laura is being a nanny for. Bene took us to her Moms house just outside of Torino. It felt like something right out of the movie 'under the Tuscan sun'. That first night there Bene's boyfriend (Alberto) inivited us to his house for dinner. Which is where I had my first dish of Italian pasta!!!! Which was followed by chicken cooked in fresh olive oil and olives. Everytime I eat while I'm here I can't help but think of my dad saying the back of my head 'what did you eat today?!'
The next day Laura and I headed on a Tuscan adventure! We started by spending two nights in Florence. One in a hostel and one with a local, named Ricardo. After Florence we headed to a campground in Torre del Lago, a small beachside town which reminded me of wasaga beach. Laura and I spent two nights camping in my ONE person tent while we were in Torre del was a tight squeeze! On our last travel day, we left Torre del Lago and headed to Pisa for the afternoon, where my oversized backpack blended in nicely with the plethora of tourists with massive cameras around their necks. After a nap under the leani tower we made our way to a little seaside town
called Noli, where the family Laura is a nanny for owns a summer beachside apt. We arrived in Noli very late and we were so tired! But the grandmother(Nona Linda) still had food and drinks waiting for us! The next day we spent the entire day at the beach, which is literally a stones throw from the apt! That second day, Nona, in her broken English explained to me that they would like me to stay as long as I wished!!! I ended up staying for eight days! I didn't want to leave. The food they fed me was amazing!! Each day was spent at the beach with the whole family, then at the apt for homemade meals, and after dinner and dishes laura and I had an evening stroll along the boardwalk and always made sure to stop into a shop for gelato!!! My favorite kinds have been green apple, pistaccio, mint, and watermelon!! On my last night in Noli Nona made homemade pesto with a type of pasta called 'emilieane', a prosciutto quiche, and she even got sparkling wine for the occasion! I supplied a thank-you dessert from a local was a chocolate peach tarte, and as it turns out it was Eli's (the mom) favorite, and Nona had always got it for her birhdays! Which led me to find out the Elisa's birthday is Sept 3rd! The same as my moms! Before dinner was over Elisa gave me a bracelet as a going away gift! I still can't get over the generosity of this family. After a sad goodbye, Laura walked me to the bus stop and that was the beginning of my trip to France!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

ireland, goodbye for now

right now i am staying in dublin with a friend of mine from grade school. her name is emily and she is living in an apartment with her boyfriend jacob (who i also went to school with), veronica (from northern italy), and stefan (from france). needless to say its quiet a cultural experience in this little apartment. i arrived in dublin on the 28th, it was hard for me to leave the aran islands though. inis mor has by far been my favorite stop in ireland so far.
the journey from inis mor to dublin was packed full of gravol. it was a 45min ferry ride from the island to rossaveal, then a 45min bus ride from rossaveal to galway, and then a three hour bus ride from galway to dublin city. i was so tired that night. but never the less i still toured around all of dublin the next morning. on tuesday i was talking to my friend shellnutt (laura), who i went to acadia with, and she also traveled to mexico with me on my graduation trip. shellnutt is currently being an nanny in italy, and we have been talking about meeting up for a while. well, i made a split second decision and i guess the short story flying to italy on saturday morning!
im a little nervous, because i dont feel like my time in ireland is over yet. but i guess i do have nine months, and who knows what could happen! i arrive in milan on saturday afternoon, and then i am taking a train or bus to turin, to meet up with shellnutt.
until next time! xoxo