Monday, March 29, 2010

Odd things I've seen in the last couple of days:

1. Police on roller blades. I don't get it. I have no faith that you can help someone while wearing roller blades. Also, are we still in the 90s?

2. A man clipping his nails into a dumpster outside of my building...

3. Prostitutes! I was running today by St. Denis and happened to turn down a little street that was filled with prostitutes. By the way, this was around 3pm. Young, old, black, white, take your pick! I felt very out of place.

Friday, March 26, 2010

To Africa we go!

To procrastinate doing my homework I'm going to write about Africa. This is semi-productive, right?

Maria, Dave, and I went to Morocco for the 2nd part of our spring break. Okay, first of all I've been wanting to go there forever. I was so excited and it was wonderful trip. I am now obsessed with planning future trips in my head to Egypt, South Africa, and part of west Africa to be determined.

We flew into Casablanca at night and took a cab to our adorable hostel (more like a hotel.) The driver tried to cheat us. Mind you, it was only $3 more than he said, but a deal is a deal. I got all up in his face, yelled at him, he got out of the car, complained to the hotel, yelled at me in Arabic, but then left. I WON THE BATTLE. Proud moment.

The next day we went to the Hassan II mosque. Wow, I don't know if I can give it justice. It was so moving to be there. Reminded me why people are religious. We admired all the architecture, took a billion pictures and then went inside for a tour. It was amazing to get a tour, especially because it's one of the few mosques that allows foreigners inside. The inside is ridiculously beautiful. Unfortunately, my pictures didn't do it justice. So much marble. It felt very regal.

After the mosque we went to the colonial section of town which reminded me of the Dominican Republic a little. We went into an abandoned Catholic church that was mentioned in our guide book. All the mosques we saw were very well kept, clean, etc. This church on the other hand...weeds, graffiti, dirty. We went inside and there were no pews, no real alter. I asked the guard "is this church used, is there a priest?" He actually laughed at me. Interesting comparison to all the mosques.

We wandered around the souks before taking the train to Marrakesh where we sat in car with two cute Moroccan couples that offered us an orange. By the way, the three hour train ride cost less than $20!!! We lived like kings in Morocco. Everything was so cheap.

Our raid in Marrakesh was adorable. They put rose petals on our bed! It was in the Medina, very close to the souks. We did a lot in Marrakesh, but I'll try to summarize. We wandered around the beautiful gardens of the Koutobia mosque, spent many hours bargaining in the souks, visited the old palaces, and visited the newer and swankier part of town, ville nouvelle. We also walked through Djemaa al fna square many times. It's filled with juice stands, nut and dried fruit vendors, story tellers, cheap food, and snake charmers. Alright, I loved the square, but I also panicked every time we were there because of the snakes. What happened to be when I was little to make me so afraid of snakes? I almost cried.

In addition, we went to la mamounia, the fanciest hotel in town...they almost didn't let us in because we weren't "chic" enough. It was so beautiful and lavish. Our drinks there were more expensive than most of our dinners!

On our last day we took a day trip to the Ourika valley. It looked like Colorado and Switzerland. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was breathtakingly beautiful. We saw a Berber house (complete with a cow,) rode camels, and hiked to a waterfall. The hike to the waterfall was probably my favorite part (camels were a little out of place without a desert.) It was a hard hike, not gonna lie. On the way up were little restaurants and souvenir shops. It kept getting steeper, but they were still there. Even at the waterfall there was a restaurant! How they get food up there, I don't know. It was a beautiful hike, as Maria said "it looks like the bible up here." The best part of the hike was when we were halfway there, getting tired, and a little store was blasting "desert rose" by sting. It was so fitting.Everything was in bloom and the air was so fresh, I felt very in tune with nature, ha.

I can't wait to go back to North Africa. It was all so foreign and new, makes me remember why I love to travel so much. Oh, by the way everyone was so nice to us. There are very few street signs in morocco, but everyone we asked for directions was incredibly helpful, some even taking us to our destination. We discovered that the old men in djellabas (traditional hooded robe. Looks a little like a KKK robe, just a little) had the best directions.

Even though many of the sellers in the souks are pushy, once you talk to them they are very nice. When it comes down to it their just trying to make a living. Still, I like to think I got very good at bargaining there.

It really bothered me when I saw westerners dressed inappropriately. It wasn't even that warm out, but many women were wearing shorts and tank tops. I'm sorry, did you forget that Morocco is a Muslim country?! Just be respectful and wear sweater, Jesus (or should I say Mohammad.) Especially around a mosque!

It was a fantastic trip, I was very sad to leave, but hopefully I will be back!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Real World: AIX

I don't think it gets any better than a house full of friends in the south of France. We were such a cute little family. We decided that our stay would be like the real world aka "when people stop being nice and start getting real." We even had a confessional room. Some highlights:

1. Cooking. I love cooking and eating with friends. There is something very satisfying about it. We ate very well, but underestimated how much food to buy, so at times had very little food in the house. Each man for his own with no food for miles creates an interesting group dynamic.

2. Watching Spartacus and taken. Spartacus, wow, you are long. Hilarious (maybe because of the wine?) but long. I have to say the ending was a let down. Also a let down when I looked it up on wikipedia and realized most of it was fake. I saw parts of taken 3 times over that weekend. Somehow, it has become a big part of my life and I bring up Liam Neeson a lot.

3. Feeding donkey's! Everyone was surprised at how "country" I was.

4. Strolling through Aix and Lourmarin. It was quiet and laid back. A nice escape from Paris. Lourmarin is a quintessential little french village. With a castle next door, bah oui!

5. Watching the gold medal hockey game. It was a tough night for team USA, but it was so fun. There were two Canadians, two Americans, a Norwegian, and a Nicaraguan. Things got heated. I have to paint the Canadian flag on my face and go to a bar as punishment for USA losing. We'll get them next time. Watching it in French was so funny. I think the correspondents France sent over were drunk the whole time. They kept showing clips of them singing songs and playing in snow.

The whole weekend was wonderful and I am so thankful for Martin for inviting me into his beautiful house!



It has been such a nice weekend! Sunny and warm, just the way I like it. Springtime in Paris! I went running in the tuleries gardens to start off my day which was delightful. And by delightful I mean the scenery, my running was sub par. I had a little "I love Chicago" moment where I ran past the U.S. embassy while listening to go go gadget flow (I'm from a city in the Midwest, best city in the whole wide wide world.) It was cute to me, probably cheesy to whoever reads this other than Chicagoans.

Pierre Herme was giving out free macarons yesterday. I had been wanting to try them for ages, of course I decided to try them on Thursday. If i had waited two more days they would have been free! Oh well. The flavors are more interesting than ladure, but I like the consistency of la duree more.

Then I went on a lovely date with my girls. Strolling by the canals, vintage shopping, browsing through art books, and sangria. It was a perfect afternoon. I want to live by the canals. I kept saying "I want to raise my kids here" which my friends found odd, but hey it's the truth. I think part of the reason I like it is the water. I never realized I like to be by water until I went to D.C. One of my absolute favorite things to do is to drive down lake shore drive in the summer (naturally to go pick up hpk people who don't drive. You know who you are.) The lake is so beautiful and huge. It makes it seem like the world never ends. Anyway, I liked being by the water. I also enjoyed all the cool shops and how friendly the neighborhood was. I just felt at ease. Over Sangria, we decided that once we're all jobless next year we're going to come back and open a 24 hour coffee shop in Paris for students. I am actually considering doing this.

I got in a fight with a cabbie at 4 am. Trying to cheat me. Unfortunately I lost the battle. Funny how I can win a fight with a cabbie in Morocco, but lose in France.

Will I wake up to a passed health care bill?! I think so!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I will write about Copenhagen, aix, and Morocco soon!

How is it mid march?! I have so little time left here! It's making me sad...can I just live here forever and not go back to gw? But also not stay at sciences po...can I finish out my BA through exploring paris? Pleassssssssse.

So much food to eat. So many neighborhoods to explore. There really is no time for homework...