Guess Who's Back?

I am finally back in Juan-les-pins and back in school! I apologize for not posting much lately. Between packing, running for flights and hostel hopping, there wasn't much time to sit down and write. :(

At last, home sweet home! For the past nine days, I have been on the road: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam & Barcelona. I love traveling and all the cities I visited were awesome. However, hostel/train/plane hopping is exhausting! I am so tired!

Paris was beautiful as mentioned in a previous post. Brussels was cold. No wait, it was freezing! The extreme humidity made the cold almost unbearable. Brussels is known for its beers, mussels, chocolate, fries and waffles. I went to Delirium Cafe where they have 2004 different beers! They even served the Simpson's Duff beer! I tried a strawberry flavored beer and it was amazing! Too bad I won't be able to find anything like it on Montreal. The mussels were pretty good. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to seafood, so that's all I can say about it. The best thing in Brussels is their waffle. They are unbelievably delicious. I had mine with melted chocolate and kiwi. The waffle was soft, warm and moist; it was just amazing!

Remember when I said I froze in Brussels? Well, I froze even more in Amsterdam. I had decided to come to France this winter to escape the Canadian winter. But, here was I, standing in a temperature colder than Canada’s… But it was worth. Amsterdam is great! I really liked the city, Too bad I don’t speak Dutch. I did, however, pick up a few words. The people were really nice and all the canals made the city quite charming. One thing I thought was really interesting was the Red Light District. I know what you’re thinking! But in all seriousness, it was special to see the sex workers standing in their window, display themselves in bathing suits. Taking pictures in the Red Light District is totally prohibited. Apparently, they ladies get really mad and will open the door and throw a cup of urine at the photographer!

While most people like you and I would find the whole thing weird, people in Amsterdam see these ladies as any other citizen in the Netherlands, with a regular job. These ladies are tax payers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and are working to either support their children or paying their education. While not everyone would agree with the career choice of the sex workers, I am nonetheless touched by Amsterdam’s high degree of tolerance and acceptance. They don’t discriminate. That being said, not only is Amsterdam full of marijuana and prostitutes, it is also full of bikes and bikers! Whenever you cross a street, you cross the tram rails and cars. Just when you think you are safe, a Dutch biker is coming at you at full speed! Dangerous? Hell yes!

I also visited the Anne Frank House, the famous hidden annex in which Anne and her family hid for two years, before being betrayed and transported to concentration camps. I was very touched by the exhibition. Amsterdam was great and I definitely want to go back sometime in the future. Probably when the weather will be warmer!

My last stop was Barcelona! It felt so good to be in the sun after a week in the Parisian, Belgian and Dutch cold. When I first arrived in Barcelona, I didn’t know what to think of the city. But over time, I discovered its Catalan charm and improved my non-existent Spanish skills. Barcelona is part of Catalonia, a region which existed years because Spain’s existence. This is why the city is full of history. Barca is also an incredibly artistic city, with unique architecture by Gaudi all over town. I really enjoyed my time there.

Now that I am home, I’m going to relax a bit before jetting off to Berlin, Germany this weekend. Until then, I will try to upload all the pictures from all from my long trip and post them as soon as possible!


Paris, je t'aime

Paris, Paris, Paris. What a wonderful city.

When we first arrived, we met up with Naomi’s friend Ziyi, an extremely smart law student. I call her the Human Encyclopedia because she knows everything! We went to the Eiffel Tower, where Sophie and I had a baguette battle in the Parc Champs de Mars. I then started my long awaited macaron crawl. Our first stop was at Fauchon. The café was pink and girly. I thought it was very “Sex and the City”. The macarons were okay, a bit expensive because we sat down. We actually wanted to start the crawl at Laduree, but we sort of lost our way in the city. We ended up finding Laduree and it was packed; seriously packed. The macarons at Laduree were good. In my opinion, they were better than Fauchon’s. I really wanted to go to Pierre Herme, but we were tired and Ziyi had class. So we went back to the hostel to rest and to get ready to celebrate my birthday. 

Celebrating my 21st birthday in Paris was a dream true. On that night, Naomi had made reservations at Je the…me, a cozy French restaurant. When I walked into the restaurant, Naomi had surprised me with Sophie, Pat and Georgia sitting at the table ready to celebrate! I was shock to see Pat and Georgia because it was so unexpected.  I had not seen Pat and Georgia for the past few days. They had suddenly disappeared from Juan-les-pins and told no one where they were (but clearly they had told Naomi).  The meal was delicious and the owner informed all the guests of my birthday and everyone sang for me as the owner walked out of the kitchen with a crème brulee with a candle on top. It was so cute! I was very happy.  After dinner, I had planned to join a friend from Montreal at the Financier Pub. However, when we arrived there, it was packed as it was student night.  So we ended up heading to Saint-Michel and hanged at the Great Canadian Pub.

The next morning, we walked around Paris.  We visited the Quartier Latin and saw the Pantheon, which is beautiful. I was greatly disappointed by the Jardins de Luembourg because it was so grey. However it’s winter so it’s totally understandable. Ziyi who was supposed to meet us at 11 AM didn’t show up. She had just arrived in Paris and had no mobile phone, so we had no way to reach her.  Since, we knew she stayed out late, Naomi and I figured she might be still sleeping. By 3 PM, we started to hunt Ziyi down as we still didn’t hear anything from her.  We were worried that something might have happened, but she just slept through her alarm. With Ziyi, we want back to Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. Everywhere we went, it was full of Asian tourists! They were mostly Japanese and Chinese. They were so many that in both department stores, a big portion of employees are Asians who speak Japansese and C hinese.  I fell in love in the shoe department of Galeries Lafayette. I saw these nude patent leather MIU MIU high heels. They were so beautiful! I really want them! But in true luxury fashion, they were quite expensive.  After all the shopping, we went to this amazing restaurant called Frenchie. It was DELICIOUS.  The meal cost me close to $70 CND, but it was worth every penny. Everything was beyond delicious! It was hands down one of the best meals I had in Paris. 

After dinner, we decided to visit the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is gorgeous at night with the lighting. We went up and had an amazing view of the Champs Elyses.  We ended the night walking along the Champs Elyses, while singing Joe Dassin’s “Champs Elyses”.  I had a great evening, despite the Parisian cold.
February 20: last day in Paris. We woke up early, and it was raining. Luckily, we had planned to visit the Louvre. That morning, we woke up and our roommate came up to us and introduced herself. Her name was Nanako and she was from Japan. Nanako is a spring break, and she and her friend Yuma took this opportunity to go to Berlin for a month to learn German. Both of them attend Waseda University and study and law and cinema, respectively. I, who had considered doing my exchange at Waseda and Keio University in Japan was really excited to meet Japanese students. Since both Nanako and Yuma intended to visit the Louvre as well, Naomi and I invited them to tag along. While waiting for Ziyi at the metro station, Nanako and Yuma informed us that they are part of the choir club at their university. Of course, Naomi and I made then sing for us. It was magical! Their voice was beautiful! Nanako had a soft soprano voice, while Yuma had a smooth bass voice. They were such great singers!

After the Louvre, we went back to Galeries Lafayette and finally went to Pierre Herme. After the long  day of walk, we went back to the hostel and tasted the macarons. It was heaven. Pierre Herme’s macarons were amazing! The flavour, tasted and texture were flawless. It was a great way to spend our last night in the city of lights. Later that night, Nanako and Yuma came back from the opera. Since both of them are not Facebook users, we initiated them to Facebook in order to stay in touch. The night ended with all me, Nao, Zi, Nanako and Yuma singing in the hostel room. 

In the early morning of February 21, Naomi and I had to leave Paris for Brussels. I fell in love with Paris, and I wasn’t looking forward to leave; especially after meeting such amazing new friends.  We had breakfast, packed and sadly said our goodbyes to Nanako and Yuma. I was so sad. I really wanted to spend more time with them. They were so kind and fun to be around with. I am going to miss them.  But thank god for Facebook. At least I’ll be able to stay in touch.  Hopefully, I will be able to visit them in Tokyo one day. 

I am now in Amsterdam, where it is freezing cold! You would think a Canadian such as myself wouldn’t have too much of a hard time spending time in the cold weather.  But Amsterdam is so humid that is the cold gets to your bones! It’s not like the Canadian cold. The same thing goes for Brussels, it was freezing! At least Brussels had AMAZING waffles!

*Pictures will be posted soon!*


Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my 21st birthday! While many celebrate their legal age in Las Vegas,  I get to celebrate in Paris, the city of lights!

I just got settled in my hostel and I am getting ready to go out for dinner with Naomi and her friend Zi Yi. I am not sure what we will do after dinner, I am certain that it will be an unforgettable night.


Geneva, Switzerland

*Warning: Long post ahead.*

In the early morning of February 3, my red duffle bag and I left my cozy apartment in Juan-les-pins for Geneva, Switzerland for 4 days. 

The flight was very short. It lasted 45 to 50 minutes.  The view from the flight was amazing. When the plane took off, I could see Nice’s blue water and beaches. Eventually, the plane flew over mountains, and the next thing you know, I was right above the Alps. I was amazed by the high mountain peaks, the snow, the clouds and the Sun. All these elements formed the most beautiful picture I have ever seen. I simply couldn’t take my eyes off the window. 

After we landed at the Geneva Airport, we took the train to downtown Geneva and found our way to the Geneva Youth Hostel. We settled in and started our Swiss journey. Our first day in Geneva consisted of walking around the Geneva Lake and the city. We saw the famous water jet and the flower clock. I found Swiss people were so much nicer than the French!

As most of you know, Switzerland is known for its chocolate and watches. Well, Geneva had plenty of chocolate and watches! Every two step I took, there was a watch store. Most of them were luxury watches such as Rolex, Raymond Weil, Tissot, Cartier etc. They were beautiful and of course unaffordable. Then again, everything in Geneva was expensive. The city is among one of the most expensive cities in the world!
After a full day of exploring the city, in the late evening, we met up Naomi’s friend Adam. Adam is a current Intern at the United Nations and he brought us to the UN’s weekly night out. This week, the party was at Mr Pitwick’s Pub, which was only a few minutes away from our hostel. Remember when I said everything in Geneva was expensive? Well, I ordered a burger and it cost me 17 CHF, which is about 18 CND! Despite the high price tag, the burger was amazing! It was delicious! Totally worth the $18! On that night, it also happened to be Karaoke night at the Pub. I don’t think I have mentioned it, but in France, when people found out I’m from Quebec, their first question was: “Do you listen to Celine Dion”?  For this reason, all of us took the microphone and went on stage to sing Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.  I thought people would laugh at us, but everyone was cheering and clapping! It was hilarious. 

The next day, we visited the United Nations. We had a guided tour through the Palais des Nations.  Although most of my friends didn’t enjoy the tour that much, I thought it was interesting. I learned about the main components of the UN and how the system works. We sat in conference rooms where diplomats and important figures have meetings regularly. The UN in Geneva holds hundreds of meetings every month!  The Palais des Nations is also filled with history. During its construction, countries all over the world gifted art pieces or raw materials to the UN to help. It was interesting what each country had offered. I always knew what the UN was and does, but it is only after the visit that I realize how essential this organization is to the world and lucky we are to have such a big institute working hard on peacemaking, development and making the world a better place for every single human being.  

After the UN, we went to the Red Cross Museum.  The museum was great.  Every detail on how and why the whole organization started was presented.  The Red Cross was created in 1863, aiming to provide assistance and protection without discrimination to the victims of armed conflicts. It was very touching to find out that despite all the wars happening at the time, there were  good people who helped the wounded soldiers (regardless of the their nationalities) on the battlefield. 

Following the museum, we wondered in the city before returning to the hostel.  On our second night in Geneva, Adam took us to a little restaurant on the Geneva Lake for dinner. The restaurant served authentic Swiss fondue. The meal consisted of dipping bread in gruyere cheese cooked with white wine. It was delicious!
On our final day, we went up Mount Saleve which towers over Geneva. The view was breathtaking! I got to see the Mont Blanc up close and it was insane!

In essence, I very much enjoyed my trip to Geneva. It was cool to be in a city filled organizations aiming to make the world a safer place. The visit to the UN and the Red Cross Museum really opened my eyes to how lucky I am. I always knew I am very lucky to be living in Canada, where I am free to express myself, free of armed conflicts and have access to medical care and proper education.  However, those visits made me further reflect on how the world is far from being fair and perfect. 

Click Here to see pictures from my Geneva trip