Hello! I've made it to Barcelona, rested up, ate lunch at a nice Spanish restaurant, and now I'm writing from the common room of my youth hostel, located in the center of town. There is youth...and backpackers...and weed...and very, errr, friendly German men.

This trip should be interesting. It's a nice place, apparently, as far as hostels go, but I've never really "roughed" it in my whole life. So spoiled! But is it so much to ask to have a towel or a blanket in your room? Or a chocolate on your pillow? sob sob sob.

I'm so excited to put to use my Spanish I've picked up from watching Dora the Explorer. Here's a non-exhaustive list that will come in handy for the next 10 days.

-Adios, hasta luego
-Muchas gracias, senor/senora/senorita!
-Yo tengo una fiesta en mi pantalones
-Donde estas la biblioteca?
-ay dios mio!

I can also count to ten. I should be ready to go go go!

Besides that, I'm looking forward to seeing some of the city's architecture. I'm an art nerd. The Picasso museum is a short trip away, and that is a must-see.

Oh, and I guess it's harvest season, so I'd really like to take a trip to a cava vineyard!

Now, on to Tapas! Buenas Noches, homies!


Shameless Plug

Oh heyyyy,

This isn't my only blogging commitment, you know.

And look at the fancy graphic they made me! I am so honored. Click through and check out STITCH Fashion Feed, the blog for NU's premier culture and style publication. We also print a magazine twice a year.

It's homecoming week back in E-town, so all posts are purple-themed! Go 'Cats!


America is my country and Paris is my hometown. -Gertrude Stein

Indeed, indeed.


"The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has only two things toward which we drift as we grow older- intelligence and good manners."
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Why, thank you sir!

I should probably doing something substantial besides looking at quotes of American expats, but I can't bring myself to read since my brain feels like a fuzzy cloud floating aimlessly behind my eyeballs. I've been sick for the last few days. It's gross.


Waffles in Brussels and Souflees in Paris

I'll be in Spain a week from now, which means it's almost Toussaint, which means it's almost December, which means I'm almost home. Time flies, I tell ya.

Welllll, let me give you a quick rundown on what's happening in Gay Payree and elsewhere.

Monday, a friend and I went to Père LaChaise, a large cemetery in East Paris filled with the bodies of the rich and famous. We hobnobbed with Oscar Wilde, Molière, and Jim Morrison. I'll try to get some pictures from her to put up so you can see my pretty face, as well as the beautiful fall colors. That day was so gorgeous, and the light in the cemetery was just perfect. Paris doesn't do fall very well in general, so that beautiful day soothed my ache for my favorite season back home. It's constantly rainy and cold here, and nobody jumps in piles of leaves, or carves pumpkins, or drinks hot apple cider, or goes apple picking, or goes for a hayride, or dresses up for Halloween. Thanksgiving is going to be ROUGH, you guys. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm supposed to embrace cultural differences with open arms, but when those differences mean I can't have Papou's cranberry sauce, naturally I get a bit rowdy.

Early Tuesday morning I took a truly amazing (technology we don't have at home (yet) blows my mind) 1.5 hour high speed train ride to Brussels, city of chocolate and waffles and capital of Europe. It was a cute city, nothing compared to Paris, but what can you do. Belgium is kind of the Canada of Europe. What are these Beligians all about? No one really knows. All we can tell about them is that they have 2 official languages, and make waffles (which coincidentally go along great with maple syrup).

To add to the oddness of the Belgians, one of the main attractions is a fountain of a little boy taking a whiz. It's called "Manneken Pis", or literally, little man piss in Dutch. I refused to go see it, because that is basically the silliest thing ever. Why would I go out of my way to watch a little pudgy baby pee? I don't need to go all the way to Belgium to see that! French parents don't change diapers, they just let their babies go to the bathroom on the sidewalk. I've seen it far too many times.

We visited the European Commission and the Council of Europe, gained some knowledge, and I got some free EU goodies. All in all a successful field trip, even if I ignored one of Belgium's national treasures.

Now I'm back in Paris, fresh off a visit to the Opera Garnier and a cooking class. The cooking class was fun times, y'all. My friend and I figured it would be us and a bunch of 50 year old ladies, and we were totally right. Our chef, Emmanuel, was laid-back and unpretentious and helped us make cheese and chocolate souffles along with a salad. There was also wine, so, score. Emmanuel clearly loved all the adoring attention he got from the ladies, but who can blame him. Everyone was moaning with pleasure or in the throws of ecstasy after tasting their chocolate souffle (***OMG LOL, There is just something *special* about chocolate, right ladiezzz??? ;-)***), so I guess he does have the right to be appreciated as well. Thanks, Emmanuel. You rock my world.

Oh yes, and everyone is on strike again! Which means lousy mail service, and a crowded sweaty metro, with only a few trains running. Blahhhh. My absentee ballot better get to the states in time!

Bon Week-End, everyone! Now off to start on my piles of papers....


Stuff French People Like.

This is a list. Sort of like "Stuff White People Like", but different.

1. English. Sometimes it's the writing on their shirt that gives it away: "Who are you and why are you reading my shirt?" or my personal favorite, "Cat". Sometimes it's their use of expletives. I wonder if they apologize by saying "Pardon my English"?

2. PDA. I know Paris is romantic and all that crap, but everyone is smooching everywhere. I can't escape it. People are even smooching at the next table over, 4 feet away from my face. I feel like the third wheel, and I don't even know these people!!!

3. Dogs. French people love dogs. Probably more than their children. I saw a French lady hit her child, but I've never seen a French person hit their dog. And that's, like, proof, right?

4. Baguettes. At any time, 8 out of 10 Parisians are carrying a baguette. True story.

5. This joke. I've heard it about 3 times on the metro: "What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages? Trilingual. What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages? Bilingual. What do you call a person who speaks 1 language? American."

6. Carbs. My meals at home are quite nutritious, but I worry about what I'm eating the rest of the day. All my options seem to involve cheese, bread, and chocolate. And all the mayo they put on every sandwich!! I don't understand how French women only eat terrible things, and they stay thin. Someone told me it's just because they eat richer ingredients, which fills them up, so they eat less overall. I'm not sure.

7. Correcting you. French people will tell you when you've butchered their language. Not in a rude way, but they'll make sure you know you've made a boo-boo.

8. Drinking in the streets. Any open container is okay in France. A very popular night activity is gathering wine, cheese, and bread for a picnic down by the Seine, or in the Louvre courtyards, or in the Tuileries, or wherever. Some friends and I did this on Friday evening, and it was great! On Saturday, a few of us went to a festival around Sacre Coeur in Northern Paris. There was music, creepy people in costumes, dancers, food and drink from France's different regions. And no fence! That so wouldn't fly in the U.S. But it was a lovely day with lovely weather and lovely people.

9. 16 euro hamburgers. I mean, really?

10. Sitting in a restaurant/café/coffee shop for hours on end. No one ever gives you dirty looks or asks you to clear out. It's glorious. You're paying a premium to occupy their space, so take your time! There is a hierarchy of prices: Sit on the patio>sit inside>stand at the bar>To-Go

Well, I'll be M.I.A for a few days since I'm going to Brussels to visit EU institutions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Think of all the waffles that are waiting there for me. Until then, Adieu.


Alexandra can't figure out how to buy a Navigo Pass

After spending a month stubbornly buying booklets of metro tickets, and killing a whole lotta rain forest, I finally decided it might be a good idea to get with the program and Al Gore by buying a Navigo pass. It's this plastic card that you buy and fill up every month, or every week, and ride unlimited. So, passport photo in hand (the French LOVE passport photos. They use them for everything. It's nuts.), I went to the Rue de Bac metro station after class and tried to buy a Navigo pass. But it didn't go so well.

Me: Hi, I need to buy a Navigo Pass! (Straightforward enough, I thought)
Metro Station Lady: Which one, dumb-ass*?
M: I beg your pardon?
MSL: There are 4 types, regular, student...yaddayaddayadda, whatdoyouwant?
M: Um, well, I'm a student, so that one I guess.
MSL: Shoves an student card application at me

End Scene

I read the application on the train home, and it was some sort of contract for 12 months, which wasn't what I was looking for. I figured I needed to buy a regular old Navigo pass.

So at the Victor Hugo station, I went to the booth and asked the gentleman there how I could purchase a monthly Navigo pass. He told me to go to the ticket machine to buy a voucher, and then bring it back to the booth. I went to the machine, and there was no option to buy any sort of Navigo voucher. I went back to the booth to ask about this, and he'd already locked up and left for the evening. Apparently actually helping me get what I needed was below him and his time.

Clearly the universe does not want me to save money or trees.

*ok, an embellishment. But it was implied!


Rive Droite ou Rive Gauche?

When living in Paris
, there comes a point where you must choose between the banks of the Seine. There is no getting around it. You must choose, and then forever define yourself by your choice. I've yet to figure out where I belong, but luckily I live here, so I have time to figure that out. You, however, do not have that luxury, so you desperately need my advice.

I live on the Right Bank (North Paris), and go to school on the Left Bank (South Paris), so I am well qualified to help you evaluate what kind of personality you have. According to some largely untrue stereotypes. Let's go.

1. Do you prefer art or literature?
A. Art
B. Literature

2. Would you dine at an Asian restaurant on on a street lined with sex shops and massage parlors?
A. God, no. I'm getting food poisoning just thinking about it.
B. Bring it onnnnnn. As long as it's authentic!

3. Do you enjoy capitalism?

4. Do you claim to be well-versed in philosophy, while in reality you've only read the wikipedia summaries?
A. No
B. Yes

5. Macarons or Crepes?
A. Macarons.
B. Crepes.

6. Do you know a tourist trap when you see one?
A. Yes. English on the menu, sub-par food, neon signs...Latin Quarter...
B. No. This place looks lively! I much prefer it to 'typical Parisian' haunts. Too bad I don't realize I'm wasting my money...

7. Would anyone ever describe you as quirky?
A. Never. I haven't a quirky bone in my body.
B. Sounds about right. Call me the quirkmiester.

8. Are you rich or poor?
A. Rich.
B. Poor. But not really. Because I live in Paris. I just like to pretend!!! teehee.

Tally your As and Bs to find your Parisian Personality:

Mostly A: You're Right Bank! Congrats, you are a snobby, shiny, Golden Triangle-shopping, workaholic member of the Bourgoise. Unless you live in Monmartre or Le Marias...but we don't talk about that....
Mostly B: You're Left Bank! Congrats, you are a snobby, ethnic food stand or literary café-patronizing (yo guys, I know this really cool little place), pseudo-intellectual bohemian.
Equal number of A and B: You pont-sitter! Your wishy-washiness lands you on Ile-de-la-Cité, where you will be forced to share a cot with Quasimodo in his bell tower.