Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April in Paris

Here's some new pictures from Paris. If you want to get into the right mood, you can always listen to the jazz-song "April in Paris" while you look at them ;) It describes the spring here pretty well... Because as I said, it's lovely! Really marvellous!

This is the same sidewalk by the Saine I showed you another picture of earlier. Now it's just so much greener.

And I don't need to go to Japan to be able to see the cherry-trees blooming! They are just so beautiful! But unfortunately most of them doesn't have any flowers left anymore...

Notre Dame with one of the restaurant/pub boats in front.

This picture is taken in Bois de Bologne, one really big park in western Paris. We went there for a picknick with my parents while they were here. Champagne and baguettes with cheese. And a croissant for dessert! :P

Still the Seine and Ile de la Cité, while the sun is about to set. People always gather around the shores to enjoy the last minutes of the sun by the water.

Does this picture really need an explanation? :)

But this spring in Paris hasn't only been splendid weather and beautiful parks, it has also been "la grève", i.e. the strike... That by the way still continues to at least monday. Although most of the teachers have started teaching anyway, I think they're sick of doing nothing too. So this morning I again had my italian lesson in a café :) And now, the hospitals actually has a strike too. Don't know hwy, though...

And as you can see, the strike is really everywhere:

The text on the bench says "Grève Général", so it seems to me the bench sympathize with the strikers and has droped one of its planks so that nobody can sit down on it :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Packing my stuff...

Perhaps it's time to get back to Paris now after all the traveling :)

...Athough I have to admit that I don't think I'm fully in Paris anymore. I just can't stop thinking about when I get back home! Especially now when three of my friends confirmed they're coming over here in june to accompany me home. Yay! :) So now I even already have my ticket to Helsinki! I'm so excited!

And when my parents went back home to Finland, I also sent a lot of my stuff with them. You know, all my thick winter clothes and other stuff I don't think I'll need here anymore during these last one and a half months. Yes, that's all that's left for me. About 7 weeks or 50 days...

The funny thing is that while I was thinking about my plane ticket and packed the bag with the stuff I wanted to send home, I almost forgot I wasn't going home just yet with my parents, that I would actually have to stay here till june. I was so ready to start my trip back home. Because even though it's very nice over here, three months of only being a tourist has really started to feel enough. It's fun for a while but now I think it would be so much nicer to be able to actually start doing something! I wanna come back to Finland and start working!

But on the same time I slowly start to panic when I realize how little I actually have done and seen during my stay here! I mean, any longer trips have been almost impossible since we've never known if the strike will stop or not. So I've mostly stayed in Paris. And although it's a beautiful city, you don't feel like exploring it every single day! Oh no! For example, when I went to Champs-Élycées with my parents and walked down that over crowded street for the third or fourth time, I felt so sick of it. So I'm afraid that when my friends come in june, I will give them a map and wish them good luck with all the touristical sites in the city and stay home all alone continuing my new hobby. Because during this spring I've become seriously addicted to Friends after I discovered I can watch every single episode of it on YouTube. They're just so much funnier than the people in Paris :D

And to get over my panic, I'll by the way skip all my possible lessons next week and go to discover the region of Bourgogne in stead. Hihiii :P

Monday, April 27, 2009

Travel journal, part six: Chartres

And the traveling continues! But this time by car, actually! One of Sophies friends works here in Paris for a few months and she's got a car, so the three of us went on a small road-trip to Chartres, about 80km to the southwest from Paris. It actually felt a bit weird to sit in a car... Haven't been in one since... january! :D That makes me a bit worried about my driving skills too. It's going to feel so weird to drive a car again once I get back home. Jaiks!

Chartres is most famous for its cathedral. It is said to be the finest gothic cathedral in France, built (or finished) in 1220. And even though the rest of the city has been pretty badly damaged especially during the second world war, the cathedral has amazingly enough survived. It had even some glass windows left dating back to the 12th century! That's just amazing! And the glass windows were so pretty too! Those are the things I like the most in old churches, especially when the sun is shining and all the different, bright colours are reflected on the walls and the floor :)

The city of Chartres was, like almost every other town I've visited outside Paris, very sweet :) The old town had a lot of half-timbered houses and small, curving streets and the river Eure floathed through it. It's amazing how water always can give such a nice little touch to a town. Everything looks greener, cleaner and more calmful. And I seriously think people are happier around water :) Haven't you noticed? And people always gather around the water too whenever it's possible. It's like everyone wants to get away from the dull, grey houses in the city... Back to nature! ;)

In Chartres I also tried "macarones" for the first time, which are, despite the name, not pasta but a sweet patisserie. They are these small, round things, looking like hamburgers in different colours, stuffed with some kind of jam in different flavours. But I actually didn't like them too much. They tasted like marzipan. And unfortunately we were too eager to taste them, so I forgot to take a picture. But I'll show you another time :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Slimy, slipery snails

I ate snails! And it wasn't at all that bad. Not that I would call it my favourite dish, but pretty nice. Tasted like mushrooms in garlic and persley. And they looked very pretty on the plate too :)

So now I only have the frog's legs left to taste here in France :P

Yesterday me and my parents went to Giverny, to the house and gardens of Claude Monet. To get there you first had to take the train to the city of Vernon and continue from there with a buss to Giverny. The whole trip started with long queues at the railwaystation, but we bought the tickets from an automat in stead and caught the train we wanted to take. It was actually only on the way back we (again) had some problems. This time it was with the bus. The buses here have very strict rules that says they're not allowed to transport standing passengers. Unfortunately the buses didn't go so often between Giverny and Vernon, so we happened to be a lot of people for that one bus, wanting to take the same train back to Paris. And since there wasn't enough seats for everyone, the busdriver didn't first want to take all of us to Vernon. But after a lot of "S'il vous plaît" etc, we finally got going. And even got to the railwaystation in time, even though there were some very worried people on board of the bus... I'm so used to the problems over here already, so I actually almost enjoyed the situation. It was funny to listen to all the arguments :) But really, the byreaucracy over here, it can sometimes be very annoying...

Once in the garden we walked around looking at all the flowers and the famous views from Monet's paintings, and I wonder if I've ever before taken as many photos of flowers as I did there. There were just so many interesting and colourful ones that I couldn't resist!

Here's a view of the garden:


Unfortunately the water lilies didn't bloom yet. Because that would really have been nice to see! Especially now that I've seen the real paintings in Musée d'Orangerie here in Paris...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fontainebleau

Wow, I don't think I've ever updated my blog this fast after I've done something! But this morning I went to Fontainebleau with Sophie and Liss and her sisiter+husband who are here in Paris at the moment. It was fun but I had to speak englisg the whole day which was a bit different! But I think it would have been much harder like last week, because now I've mostly talked swedish with my friends and parents for a week, so the french wasn't (or isn't) as strongly in my head as it used to be.

Anyway, Fontainebleau is a palace just outside Paris with a small, very cute village around it. Seriously, I think this was the cutes town I've been to here so far! The houses were so lovely and most of them had small, lovely gardens too! I somehow reminded me of the town in Disney's Beauty and the Beast...

This is one of the streets in the town... although it looked much cuter in reality... :)

The palace was nice too but I guess it in the same time was quite normal and unspecial. Not that we have anything like that in Finland! :D But over here, there's small palaces everywhere!

This is the main entrance of the palace. I especially liked the stairs! Inside, there was all these differents rooms with different meanings I don't even remember. But I noticed there was a huge library! Or not big for our times, but really huge for back then when books were still quite rare and expensive. Then Fontainebleau also has the only royal throne left in it's original place. Maybe because this palace had it's glory as late as during the regime of Napoleon.

Around the palace there was also a big park, but unfortunately the biggest part, the english park, of it was closed today :( So we just had to be satisfied with the smaller french parc with it's fountain in the middle. But at least there were two swans swimming in the fountain! :P Although, I thought there would have been more flowers in the park. It was actually just grass, some bushes and trees. And that one big fountain. But hey, the sun was shining and it was warm, so I'm not complaining! It was really nice to sit down by the canal leading out from the park and eat some lunch, enjoying the calm nature before heading back to noicy Paris again :) I guess I'm still very finnish. Nature and a calm environement are importants things for me. I could never live in Paris for the rest of my life. Too big, too noicy, too unfriendly. And even though there's a lot fo parks all around the city, that's just not the same :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Travel journal, part five: Lille

Yesterday me and my parents went to discover the city of Lille in the north of France, near the border with Belgium. This too was a very sweet little city and very different to Paris. It was actually in a way very German. Or perhaps belgium. Don't know, since I've never been to Belgium! :D

The thing that I perhaps liked the most was the colours! As I already told you, the houses in Paris all have this very similar brown-greyish colour that makes the city look very dull when the weather is grey too. But when the sun is shining, it's ok! But Lille! The houses there were so colourful! And therefor the city looked very nice even though the weather wasn't that good! The sun actually broke through the clouds only in the efternoon, before we were about to leave Lille.

Colourful like for example these three houses in the old town:

The whole old town had these typical small streets and old houses. And lots of expensive shops :) But I was actually surprised of the alltogether modern look of the old town! I had perhaps expected the houses to look... well, older! But perhaps they really were very old. Perhaps the bright colours just fooled me to think they were newer.

We also visited the modern part of Lille where I found this piece of art just next to the second railway station:

The house behind the flowers was actually shaped as the letter L. Very strange... :)

Some other surprises in this city was the churches. The old cathedral had a whole new fasade while the rest of the building was still old and inside the church, we found a lot of modern art. But the explanation for that must be the war. The main entrance of the church must have collapsed after a bombing or something and then they decided to build a whole new, modern entrance in stead of copying the old one. Quite an interesting move... Then in this other church, called Sainte Marie Madeleaine, the altar area looked like this:

This church was also filled with modern art, and probably didn't serve as a church anymore. But it was fun looking at the art! There were for example three scenes of war and in one of them there was this forrest in the background and some soldiers in the front. And my mum said "That forest looks just like the forests back home!" and when we read the text beside it, we found out that it actually was symbolizing Karelia druing the second world war! Pretty awesome to find a piece of Finland here in modern art of France :P

Before heading back to Paris with the train, we still had time for a little walk around the old fortress of Lille, built sometime during the 17th century.

Around it were today an amusement park so it was perhaps a bit hard to catch a glimps of the history. And the very heart of the fortress was actually still today property of the military, so people were not allowed to enter.

But in all, Lille was a very nice and cosy city! And I think this was like the first time everything went as planned with the trains etc! Amazing! Perhaps the SNCF works after all! ;)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Disneyland!

Ok, so I don't update my blog in something like a week and immediately there's someone complaining! :P But ok then, here we go again!

I've gotten a lot to do lately since there's been people here visiting me. My parents are here at the moment and two friends from the university also spent a few days here in Paris. So practically, I've been running around to all the major tourist attractions :P But I can't tell you about that right now, becasue now I just have to talk about Disneyland!! Yay!!

I went there on wednesday with Hena and Sophie and even though we spent there whole nine hours, I wasn't bored a single minute! And oh no, I am NOT too old for Disneyland! No no no! In fact, we came to the conclusion that the best age to go to Disneyland is actually between 20 and 30 years old and before you have kids of your own. Because then you can really appreciate all the splendour around you and you don't have to listen to your grumpy kids when they're tired after a long day and hyperactive after consuming too much sugar. I've actually been there once before, but I was equally excited this time too, and even though it's very expensive, I don't think I would say no to a third time either :P

The whole Disneyland is really like a whole another world! It must have cost a fortune to build it! Everything is so perfect into the tiniest little detail. There's nothing they haven't thought through. I know pictures aren't even close to reality, but here still a few to give you a hint of what it looks like:


This is the main entrance to the park of Disneyland. There's actually another park too, called Disney studios, but it's impossible to have time for both of then in just one day, so we only went to the older, traditional one.


Yo ho! Pirates ahead! Bevare! Who knows what Captain Hook can do?

And here was a big roller coaster in the wild west-part of the park. Disneyland is divided in five different worlds, each with it's own theme.


The most classical or famous view of Disneyland :) And the girliest part of the park too. Very different to e.g. the pirate/adventureland.

But, as I said, you have to experience it yourself. Just to walk around and recognize all the stuff from your favourite movies. And then have fun in the different amusement machines too! Although, there's always so much people there that the queues are horrible! There's no way you have time to see and experience even half of the parc during one day, because you have to spend so much time waiting and waiting and waiting... But at least they've made the waiting interetsing too with splendid side-scenes all around you.

This time, I didn't see any of the caracters though :( So I wasn't able to shake hands with Mickey Mouse. The only time I saw them was during the daily parade, but that's not the same thing as seeing them walking around in the streets. But the parade too was so great! This year, the theme was the classic movies. Here's a video of the Lion King section:

video

Aren't they adorable? :)

But well, perhaps I've talked enough about Diseyland now because I could really talk about this for ages. Better stop before some of you get bored. I can in stead show the interested ones all my photos from the park once I get back home to Finland :P Then we can have a Disney-evening together and watch Disney-movies! Jookos? :D

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

First french essay

Sorry, I haven't had the time to update my blog lately because I was too busy with writing my first essay in french. I was actually signed up for an oral commentary, but since there's a strike, I had to do it in written form in stead *sigh* I actually thought our studies would finally start now, but no, Sorbonne was blocked again this afternoon. But we'll see if even the french are tired of striking after the two-week Easter-holiday coming up.

At first I was horrified by the thought that I'd had to write an essay in french, but it was actually much easier than I thought. Perhaps my languages skills are getting better after all, even though I don't practise it as much as if we'd have lessons. I just sent it by e-mail to the teacher, so now I just have to wait and see what she says about it. Hope it's ok.

The funny thing is also that my frustration about this on/off strike also reflects on the music I listen too. When I came here, I listened a lot to soft and happy music but now I keep tracking down the heaviest music I can found on my computer. That I actually don't have much of. So most of the time I just have to be satisfied with Nightwish or Linkin Park... And with only the computer speakers, you can't really talk about feeling the basso :)

But even though I've been busy writing my essay and cursing Sorbonne, I haven't only stayed in my room the whole time! Here's some new stuff I've seen:


Rue Mouffetard. Also known from the Amelie-movie. You know, in the beginning when she hides the metallic box of Dominique Bretodeau in the telefone booth. I didn't think it looked as nice as in the movie, though :P But still worth visiting. A very sweet little street whit a lot of specialized shops.

Then I also visited Pantheon, but that's so NOT worth the money! It's just... simply grey. And there's nothing special about the tombs of famous people in the crypte. But luckily most of the museums and monument are free for poeple under 26 years old since the beginning of april! So now I can go almost wherever I want whitout spending a single coin. ...which means more money left for patisseries etc :P Oh, I just loooove the boulanger-patisseries over here! I'm going to be so big when I return! :D

Anyway, back to the point... After Panteon me and Liss also took a small tour in the Conciergerie that served as a prison during the french revolution. There you can, among other things, have a look at a reconstruction of the cell where Marie Antoinette spent her last days before being executed. At the moment there's also a photo exhibition about the Exhibition Universelles in Paris between 1855 and 1937 and that was really interesting! I love the world exhibitions, it's just so unbelievable that people bothered to build so enormous things only for a few months! And the photos were beautiful! I especially liked the ones where you could see the people of that time. They've actually excisted! And they DID really wear all those lovely clothes you find pictures of in books and see in museums! :P

And here's a sticker they've put in almost every metro:

It says: "One second lost at the station = delay on the whole line"

No wonder people are stressed and depressed. You just don't feel happy when this is among the first things you see in the morning... or afternoon... or any time you take the metro somewhere!

Why didn't they choose a sticker with "Don't worry, be happy" in stead?

As soon as it gets a bit warmer, I will start using my yellow, smiley t-shirt to make people happier. Yes, I've bough my first yellow t-shirt ever! Amazing! I even chocked myself!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Best lesson ever!

Haha! Sorbonne is still blocked so you can't get in, but now a lot of teachers have decided to teach anyway. Every time you walk to Sorbonne you see small groups of students and a teacher sitting in a park or standing in the square outside the mainbuilding. And my teacher in italian also decided to teach, so for once I didn't go to Sorbonne at 8 in the morning for nothing! We were still only three students who arrived so we decided to go to a café near Sorbonne and there we had a really nice and relaxing lesson drinking coffee (or hot chocolate) and eating huge croissantes. And when we were about to leave, the teacher even payed for everything! :D

Yesterday was a warm and sunny day, and me, Liss and Sophie started it by going up in the air with a balloon. There's somekind of environmental week going on here in France, and therefor I happened to see in the newspaper that the rides with the balloon were free. But it turned out that it wasn't actually a real hot-air balloon, only a small balloon that remained attached to a cable the whole time. But the view was till magnificent!

This is what the small balloon looked like:


And here's the view:

In the evening we then went to have a picknick in a small park called "Parc de Belleville". It was a lovely and quiet small park, not at all like the bigger parks in the city center. Those are always crowded and with a lot of noice. And you're not allowed to sit on the grass! Which is stupid. You can't have a real picknick sitting on a bench! So that's why we were really happy to find this park near where Liss lives. And even though we went there something like 6 in the evening, it was still so warm outside that we could sit there in the sun with only t-shirts!

There we sat for a couple of hours, drinking rosé wine and eating grapes and baguette with french white cheese and ham. And cookies for dessert. Behind us, as you can see on the picture, sat also a guy who played the guitar and later on he was also joined by another guy who started practising juggleing. So at least we were not short of amusement!


This city is always full of surprises... :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Villaområde i Paris!

Yeah, that's right! I found a residential district here in Paris! It was already a few days ago, but I haven't had time to update my blod. Too much to too and too lovely a weather for staying indoors :)

But, last tuesday, me and Liss decided to discover something new, so we jumped on a bus just to see where it'd take us! And what we found at the endstation was a lovely, magificent and cute part of Paris, totally different from the areas we've so far seen! There were real, small houses and beautiful gardens! Real houses!! Not these dull, unfriendly apartement buildings you see in the city center!


This is a part of Paris I actually could consider living in! But... I guess it's pretty expensive too! So perhaps it's still a better idea to buy a house in Finland... :P

Then we actually had a walk in Montmartre too, my favourite part of the city. The streets over there are so small and cute. You always find some new places! And as long as you don't walk right by the church Sacré-Coeur, there isn't even too many tourists and people trying to sell you useless junk.

Another of my favourite parts of the city is the banks of river Seine. There's these wonderful walkways right down beside the water. When you walk there, you don't even hear so much of the traffic that's usually very loud everywhere else! Here's a few picture I took yesterday while I walked home from Sorbonne... after I had eaten a delicious piece of cake I bought in a café :P



The first one is taken near Notre Dame and the second one not far from where I live.

But now I gotta run again, I'll tell you more tomorrow! ;)