Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I've been inspired by one of my favorite blogs (@natalie's news) to do a wordless wednesday. Mainly because I'm stressed for time, but feeling guilty that I haven't written anything in a while haha. So enjoy a few instagrams from Paris I took last week.

Have I mentioned how much I love instagram? (okay, so much for wordless wednesday) I've always loved photography (as a 'conceptual' artist, I find photography was the one way I could express myself articstically, since I can't draw, paint, or sculpt to save my life). Anywho, a bulk digital SLR is great, but hard when you're on the go, or in a sort of sketchy place, or just walking around the city in your daily life. I've found instagram has really stirred and reignited my love of photography and I'm documenting my life a lot more.

If you're an instagram user, let's be friends! click here to follow me.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wayfare magazine...How do you understand me so perfectly??

"We recognize that travel is not defined by how many miles you cover. It’s about finding inspiration along the way and celebrating the everyday moments. It’s about the spirit of discovery – breaking out of your routine to unwind, connect, and learn.  It’s this desire to go, to celebrate and to experience that drives everything we do."

Beautiful quote. Beautiful Mission. Beautiful Magazine. Check out: wayfaremag.com if you feel the same way.

Wayfare Pilot / Dotting the Globe

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Relish And Quaff: Le Garde Robe

So Andrea and I clearly have been spending too much time together lately...I was about to sit down and write an entry about our favorite wine bar Le Garde Robe, when I clicked over to Relish and Quaff and saw that she had just written a post!
"Le Garde Robe" - Picture (picture 1 / 2)
No matter...the place is so fantastic it is well deserved of two posts. I've now been to many a wine bar in this city, but every time I head back to Le Garde Robe. It has stayed at the top of the list for a few reasons: relaxed and casual atmosphere, consistently good and inexpensive wine and cheese, and smoked filet mignon. Yes, you heard me right. Smoked.Filet.Mignon. It's filet, that's smoked! Absolutely awesome. The texture is like soft, pillowy steak and the taste is a mix between a fine jerky (oxymoron?) and saucisson sec. Yum Yum Yum.

This wine bar was confusing to me the first time we visited because we didn't quite understand how to order wine...It's a mix between a wine store and a wine bar (more bar, than store) and the wines are lined up in shelves to the left with two prices on the bottle: one to stay, one to take away. Talk about exposing your margin! But this is pretty typical in France, I've seen a lot of 'wine bars' do it. Generally, it's minus 30% to take home. Really makes you think :)

I plan on going again tonight with a dear friend from Dannon US. I can't wait to see what they have in store for me!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chateau Vincennes

Did you know that this Chateau pictured above is really close to Paris? Like not in 'versailles' paris (which is close, but not close at all) but like a 10 minute drive, 22 minute bike ride or a 35 minute run from my house? It's Chateau Vincennes and I discovered it on Saturday and am totally amazed. First off, IT'S HUGE!!! The castle part itself is not the biggest I've seen, but the structure takes up an incredible amount of space. It's also magnifed by the fact that it's 'on the subway' line close to Paris....You're just minding your own business, going down a beautiful parisian street and then BAM huge ass castle. Gotta love France.

We visited the chateau on saturday when we decided to go on a bit of an adventure, which started by renting a bike via the Velib service here in paris. For those of you unfamiliar, it's a shared bike service which is pure genius. I pay 29 euro a year and I have unlimited bike use for up to 30 minutes. If you want to bike for more than 30 minutes, put the bike back and take out another one, or pay a euro or two extra. Easy as that! And they are all over Paris, so it's quite convenient. The hard part is biking in Paris. I must say that I've used bad weather as an excuse as to avoid trying this service, but really I was just being scared. I find walking terrifying in Paris somtimes (Motorbikes are the worst!!) so I could only imagine biking. Alors, determined to tackle our fears, we grabbed a bike and set our destinies on Chateau Vincennes.

The second part of the adventure was not only seeing Chateau Vincennes but going for a run around the Parc Vincennes. Unlike other major cities, there aren't really 'central' parks in which to run in Paris. And that makes it quite difficult as a runner because there are cars everywhere and you end up having to stop a lot or people honk at you and it's just a disaster. Considering I don't like gyms and I'm not keen on getting run over by a car, I needed to find another solution to exercise (and no, running through the cemetry pere lachaise is forbidden, despite looking like beautiful green space on a map. We know first hand). So we set our sites on Parc Vincennes and it did not disappoint. It was a huge, had lots of paths, tons of trees, grass, dogs...I was truly one with nature (or perhaps as one with nature you can get within the confines of Paris).

And it had the added bonus of an ancient chateau! Culture + exercise, what a pair! The chateau "like most chateaux' according to wikipedia was constructed as a hunting lodge for one of the Louis Kings. It's actually quite a famous castle, many of the kings were married there it's been added onto throughout the years (fortified, as they say). It was abandoned in the 18th century, made into a porcelain factory, a state prison (in the 1700s so not like those kind of prisons) and now is a beautiful place to go for a run. I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

French Cliches

In my french lesson today, my teacher asked me which French cliches did I have before I moved here that have been proven true (he asked en francais of course). I didn't have much trouble with this question and was actually a great topic to practice my french as I was quite passionate about it. Here are a few:
  • The french love bread (and carbs). Bread is no joke here and the cliche that they walk around with baguettes all the time is quite true. Only difference is it's only certain times a day -- bread is purchased after work, so I constantly see men in business suits with a loaf in tow. Another tip: that's how you know a bakery has good bread -- there is a line around 6pm with people picking up bread on their way home.
  • French service in a restaurant is bad. So, this is a strange cliche to me because the 'best' restaurants in the world claim they have French Service. I guess the actual cliche is that french servers are rude (probably also true). Anywho, this doesn't bother me anymore, but I have 3 tried and true ways to overcome it.
    • Make sure to never show up to a restaurant hungry. Sure, show up ready to eat, but never starving. I generally have a snack before I leave the house. 
    • Make sure you never show up thirsty. Chug a glass of water before entering restaurant or bring your own bottle of water.
    • As soon as you get your waiter's attention, order a bottle of wine. Do not dawdle, just do it. Don't go for glasses. The bottle is key, because then no matter how bad the service is at least you have wine!!
  • France is gray in the winter. Yes, it is, but feel free to see my post here
  • French people know how to live. This is entirely true. Yes, they work hard, but they know when to take a break and what really matters. This is one of my favorite cliches proven true.
Anywho, in Paris this weekend. First time a while...I have grand plans to organize my closet in anticipation of Andrew's imminent arrival on March 2nd. YAY!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


So I recently found out that I'm part of a Labor Union, which I find absolutely hilarious, ridiculous and sooooo very french. As a marketing executive who sits in an office all day long, with a cushy chair, laptop and water aplenty I feel like I'm the last person on earth who needs a union. Unions are ubiquitous in Francem and to quote one of my french teacher's when she taught me the word complain, it's because the French LOVE to complain. And they love to complain to someone who will listen and attempt to do something about it. Hence, I can go to the 1st floor, find my union rep, complain and she or he will try to help me. I have no idea if my salary automatically pays for this or what, but a recent event made me want to 'unsubscribe' to the union.

I have an iPhone and if you are an avid reader of this blog (hi tom!) you already know that I love it (see previous post here). As with 90% of companies these days, my company is a 'blackberry' company, but recently the US subsidiary allowed you to put your work email on a personal iPhone. Thus, I took a gamble and declined the blackberry in Paris in favor of buying my own iPhone in the hopes that some day soon I'll be able to add work email to it. Fast Forward 6 months and this still hasn't happened. And the interesting part is why, because clearly it's not a technological issue or a security barrier.

It's because the UNION thinks it's an infringement on my work-life balance. Last time I checked, I was a responsibile human being that can make decisions about my own welfare and work-life balance. Apparently, if I 'need' email for work on a phone, my company should provide one. But as I said, they'll provide a phone I do not want or need. And here is where we go in circles. I have yet to speak to my union rep, but as I said to the HR person yesterday "you can tell me their reasoning all you want, but I fundamentally disagree and never will agree so it's fruitless." (Sassy Collins in FULL EFFECT) I really don't see the difference from having a blackberry and having my email on my iPhone. I can just as easily turn off my e-mail as I can choose to not look at my blackberry. And that is an important distinction -- it's my choice.

I'm sure I'm reaping the benefits of this union in many other ways (most likely through the amount of vacation I receive, the excellent cafeteria, public transporation subsidizing, etc), but I really draw the line with they try to 'infringe' on my iPhone. I feel like I need a Union to complain about my Union :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's day!

So I get the impression that Valentine's Day is not a big deal here. I asked my boss and she's buying her husband chocolate..hmm that seems backwards to me!

It's been an entire day and I have not seen one candy heart, no chocolate, no flowers, no nothing. I am actually fairly okay with this....sounds like Hallmark hasn't done a proper job marketing in Paris. I, on the other hand, sent andrew this card via the internets this morning. I'm such a romantic.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Bright Side to Poland: Chopin

Hello Handsome

The bright side of my trip to Poland (other than meeting fantastic people and learning a lot, and oh right, going to Poland) was reigniting my love of Chopin. The airport there is called Frederic Chopin Intl airport. Despite his frenchie name (his father was french, mother a polack), he was born in Warsaw. Actually he spent most of his life in Paris, but Poland is taking credit for his fame. I can dig it Poland, Paris has enough claim to fame, gotta grab what you can.

I listened to a lot of Chopin in college, mainly to study. I prefer his nocturnes, preferably those in a flat key as I find them incredibly relaxing. I also find because I used to listen to him while studying it gets me in a good work mode where I really get stuff done. Which is incredibly important as I am one of the worst offenders of procrastination, no matter my good intentions. (For evidence please see: the blog you are reading, any number of social networks I am member of, the number of items of I've read on google reader, words with friends, flight control, family feud.... I could go on, but now my parents are threatening to disown me and France to export me)

For a sampling, here is one of my favorite nocturnes. How did we live before yotube?

L'hiver est arrivée!

So remember that post in which I said winters in Paris were mild?? Well it totally backfired and is now cold. And apparently it's 62 degrees in NYC. Go figure. BRRR

To make matters even colder, I was in Warsaw, Poland for the past 3 days. How was the city you ask? No idea, as it was -20 degrees celsius and not exactly 'go exploring' weather. However, the inside of the intercontinental was lovely. Seems like a city to go back to, although I wouldn't rush, and I certainly wouldn't suggest it in the winter.

But now that winter is here, it's time to exercise my new favorite passtime -- skiing. I've skiied off and on for years, but have really hit my stride lately. The beautiful alps help a bit :-) So far I've skiied in Christlum, Austria and Megève, France. The conditions were perfect in both, but I must say the French food on the ski hill really out does any other ski lunch I've had. Fondue for dinner, tartiflette for lunch, cheese cheese and MORE CHEESE. Sorry, Natalie, I feel like it'd be hard to survive here as a cheese hater (or a lactard for that  matter). Please enjoy the pictures below!