Gluten-free in Paris? The least of your worries.

Paris is awesome, but there are many a creepy weirdo. On Monday I was at the Citè Universitaire for a full day interview. During one of my nervous wee breaks, I was standing at the sink washing my hands when a man came in (shocked me at first, then realised that of course, the French have communal bathrooms). He stopped in his tracks, looked me up and down and said;

“Ooooohheeeee. Damn. Dammmmn. Can I say something?”

“No. No you can’t.” (Unfortunately I only said this in my mind).

“You have the most beautiful legs….” (not a common compliment directed towards me, so naturally I was suspicious).

“What’s your name, girl? Tell me your name, I want to get to know you better”…

I gasped and ran for the door, careful not to slip in the urinal zone.

Yes, it is a university and I understand they want to encourage equality… But seriously, sharing loos?

Also, who hits on someone in the bathroom?

Anyway, that was the worst part of my weekend in Paris, along with the two Spanish girls who thought it was okay to come into our hostel room at 3am, turn on all the lights, have a chat and take a shower… And also the Brazilian man who slept on top of me (not in that way, you naughty kids) and snored like he was suffocating.

Things were mostly really fun, and I’ll admit it was a bit of a foodie weekend. I think I enjoyed it all the more having lived off soup and salad for a month in Devon.

On Friday night we arrived late and the only food we could find was a tapas bar, so we ordered a few things. When they came out we were slightly disappointed – tiny salty fish with their eyes still in, a bowl of potatoes and a plate of cheese slices. I am very against eating things with eyeballs, but we washed it down with some vino.

Saturday morning we wandered the streets of Bastille on a self guided walking tour. In a guide book we had found this place offering buckwheat crepes in a little cafe in one of the neighbourhoods – I like to think it was our little secret but as it was in the guide book I guess not….. All their ingredients were organic, free range and locally sourced where possible.

When we got there it wasn’t open, so we came back an hour later and it was packed. We ordered crepes with cheese, ham, caramelised onion and an egg on top:

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Of course, tea in a France was extortionately priced so I just HAD to have an organic coffee. It put a spring in my step.

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We walked along the Seine, I gawked awkwardly at people engaging in full-on PDA’s and wrinkly old men running with their shirts off. I was weirdly jealous of people rollerblading in the sunshine – it took me way back to the days when I would don my roller skates and do laps in the garage with a broom. I would say I was “sweeping for mum” but I was really just imitating Pippi Longstockings.

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We walked around the gardens at the Louvre and found a nice spot for a nap..

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That night we went out for a Tibetan meal- I know, I know, we really should have had a French meal, but I’d never eaten Tibetan and there were little Buddhas everywhere so naturally I got excited.

The next day I awoke with excitement at the prospect of a visit to a local gluten free bakery. If you are ever in Paris and feel sad because you can’t eat their lovely gluten filled pastries, GO HERE. I had a blueberry muffin and a detox tea, because it was breakfast and I couldn’t quite handle the thought of a full- blown chocolatey tower. They also baked fresh bread on the premises, so I nabbed a few for our picnic later.

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Yum!

We walked for a while in the sun (I was mildly sweaty, such a HAWT day!) and eventually found the markets in Bastille, loud and crammed with fresh produce, old men yelling and small dogs. I found a friend on the ground, sausage, a fresh pressed juice (orange, carrot and ginger), and a man from a stall gave me an orange segment and said I was beautiful. Those frenchies, such charmers. One man asked us where we were from, and once I said New Zealand he just kept repeating it and laughing hysterically. We must have a reputation?

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We walked down the river towards the Louvre again, had our picnic, then decided to abort our plans to walk to the Eiffel Tower in favour of catching the boat. Despite being blinded by the sunshine (not a common problem this time of year), we enjoyed sitting down for a while and watching all the people on the banks of the river getting excited about spring. The Eiffel Tower is too big to get into my camera lens. You get the gist. I was there last year with friends and we climbed it; this time we just sat on a park bench and gazed.

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My lovely companion Sue left on Sunday night and I left our hotel to stay in a hostel for a further two nights. Cue snoring Brazilian and rowdy Spanish girls.

I had a job interview for a job with an active travel company on the Monday- it was a fun and exhausting day but I sadly didn’t get the job. It just obviously wasn’t meant to be! So I consoled myself with a green juice and some interesting reading in a famous Parisian juice bar. It’s called Juice Bar, just so you know.

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So basically, we went to Paris and ate heaps. Good times. If you’re heading that way, don’t worry about finding gluten free options, worry about the communal bathrooms and the old men. They’re smooth, with their oranges and their smiles.

Au revoir!

The Real World

Let’s just take a moment and consider the fact that since I left Cranleigh House, nothing else is quite funny enough.

All other normal life experiences pale in comic comparison. I have some work for the next 3 weeks with my aunty’s work, doing general admin and things, to give me a bit of moolah while I figure out my next move. Yesterday I spent a solid 10 hours entering data into a spreadsheet, mostly names like ‘Rajesh Kumpalapoori Vindaloo Abdul’. Eventually I sort of started making them up. I’ll blame it on my lazy eye and my consequent tendency to look at screens sideways.

So things have changed a little, as they are constantly doing when you are a person of no fixed abode. I no longer drink liver flush in the morning, because garlic breath amongst the general public does not go down well. One habit I haven’t been able to break is the green smoothies. They are weirdly addictive. My aunty can’t believe I can drink them first thing in the morning. I’m all like “mmmm, chunks of spinach”. Each to their own, right?

I did try to escape Cranleigh House without my enema bag. I was about to leave that morning and Katherine cried “oh! Rosie! You left your enema bag in the bathroom! I’ll get it for you”. Dammitttttttt. So it came with me, and we went on a romantic trip, train after train, house after house, until we reached Fetcham and I buried it in my bottom drawer. In several months I will be looking for something and curiously delve into that package, only to be rudely reminded of my shameful ventures in North Devon. Enema bag: intact, dignity: not so much. My body is probably heaving a sigh of relief, as I have reintroduced it to my old friends, Roast Lamb and Red Wine. Although I have to say, my tolerance for alcohol has diminished slightly. Which is fab, because now it doesn’t take much to get me on my merry way!

Tonight I’m off to Paris for a weekend of shenanigans! Or maybe walking tours and gallery visits. Even though I went there last year in September, there’s always more to see and do in Paris! Like cheese. There’s always cheese to see and do. We are just hoping for good weather. Good enough at least to wander the streets at night in less than five layers of clothing.

It feels like spring is here, which makes everything and everyone seem happier. After this weekend I will be able to plan my next trip, so things will get exciting again… I will do my best to get myself into some more awkward situations..

I’m missing my girl Kayla, she was my lifesaver down in Devon and now she’s hanging out in Croatia for a few months. We went to the beach on our last day there and took photos of each other doing yoga in our wet weather gear and gumboots. Sexual. Here are some pics: 20140313-221802.jpg

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Caution: blindingly white stomach
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A casual straddle

Devon brought out my inner weirdo, and I’m really missing wearing my baggy orange pants on a regular basis. On Tuesday I put on makeup for the first time in about 6 weeks. It was merely tinted moisturiser, but my face felt like it was suffocating so I promptly washed it all off. Now I am barefaced and I like it.

Anyhoo, I’m writing this from the Eurostar and I feel ashamed of all my gadgets so I’m going to read an actual book now… See ya folks!

2013: Things I did and things I learned

I am a bad blogger… I like to take long interludes between blogs just to make sure I have enough things to write about, and even now, I wonder whether what I am writing is of any interest. We will soon find out.

Since my last post on my trip to Edinburgh, I’ve done some stuff.

1. Christmas. 

My mum and cousin arrived just before Christmas and I think they were slightly shocked at just how terrible the weather is, coming from NZ and Australia. I think I am still a little shocked – you can see why people are always talking about the weather, because it really does impact on your ability to do ANYTHING. Mum arrived Christmas Eve, and we were lucky to be able to get her home, then get to our grandparents the next day, what with all the flooding and crazy winds.

Christmas was a family affair at my grandparents. It was  strange to be spending Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere, I am used to sunshine and swimming and exciting salads, but over here its all about wrapping up warm, cooking the heartiest meal you could possibly imagine, and then perhaps a brisk walk all rugged up before it gets dark. It was different, but it was lovely. And I have to say, all the Christmas lights, mince pies and Santa himself make a bit more sense over here, in the cold. Lets face it, Kiwi Santa is a bit creepy, all half naked and stuff.

2. We went on holiday.

After a few days to recover from general excitement and excess consumption, we drove to Kent where we stayed for a week at a Holiday Property Bond place, called Sibton Park . There were spreadsheets for who was cooking what and when, because my family has awkward food intolerances and difficulties. Gluten free, allergic to fish, dairy free, sugar free, everything free.. which would make things difficult if we didn’t have some culinary queens and microsoft excel.

Despite the weather we had a fab time – we hired bikes, we did a day trip on the Channel Tunnel to Calais where we got absolutely bucketed on and ate omelettes the size of our heads, we went to Dover Castle and got involved in some English history, we did synchronised swimming in the pool, we played musical chairs, and obviously we ate and drank a vast amount of between the 16 of us. I think there were 16 of us, strangers probably could have joined in and we might not have noticed.

3. 2014 started.

Ahhhhh, how did this happen without me preparing for it? I had not made a New Years Resolution, I had not quite achieved all the things I said I was going to do last year. But I do know I did a lot of things that I haven’t done before, and learnt some useful and un-useful(?) things.

  • I got on a big ol’ aeroplane and went somewhere far far away all on my lonesome. I learnt that once you get on the plane, you will probably stop weeping about missing your mummy and your dog and just get really freakin’ excited.
  • I went to Ireland, did a work exchange and met some pretty groovy people. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be using the word ‘groovy’ if it weren’t for one of those people. *cough*ABBY*cough*. I also learnt how to make real good scones and how to understand a very strong, slurred Irish accent, that you don’t necessarily have to shower every day and that its ok to need some Rosie time.
  • I trooped around Europe with some of my gal pals, visiting a whole lot of cities that I wasn’t sure I would ever get to, and some I have been to before… Dublin, Nice, Marseille, Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels,  Prague, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and of course, London. I learnt that there are many more types of beer in the world than you could possibly imagine, that people like it when you try and speak their language, no matter how poorly, that Oktoberfest doesn’t do gluten free, that Amsterdam prioritises cycling over any other form of transport and god help you if you are a pedestrian in the cycle footpath. I also learnt that people can be really gross and you should always take earplugs.
  • I spent lots of moneys. I learned that there are different ways to travel- you can eat out, take the nice train, drink in bars and stay in the more expensive hostel. OR, you can buy cheap french wine and brie in the supermarket, eat dinner on the beach, hitchhike or take 8 hour bus trips for 8 euro and sleep in weird apartment hostels run by boys who look like your younger brother but who will go out of their way to make sure you have a good time, and might even take you to a weird underground jazz bar and introduce you to all his friends. That was a long sentence. But trust me, sometimes its all you want to stay in a hotel (which we did in Prague for 5 days, trying to recover from the flu and the partytime) or go to a bar and meet a table full of Danish policemen, sampling all of the local beers as you go. Thats not a bad thing at all. You’ve just got to pace yourself, otherwise you get halfway through and think, shit, how am I getting home? That totes didn’t happen to me though, we were super sensible. ..
  • I spent quality time with my family. I learned that they are all awesome in their own little way, and that’s one of the main reasons I came over here.

So all in all I would say 2013 was a pretty successful year, and all I can hope for 2014 is that its just as interesting! Two places I would love to visit this year are Greece and Italy, I want to cycle the Camino de Santiago, I want to do yoga somewhere awesome, and I would quite like to get a little bit closer to figuring out my general life purpose. I don’t want much, really….

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Winter Woollies and Mulled Wine

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So I had a very exciting weekend in Edinburgh, visiting that Farrell girl who has taken the courageous leap and moved to Scotland by herself. And I can see why; it’s so lovely up there and far more spacious than London.

We arrived late Friday night, and rose early on Saturday for a fun-filled day of activities! Christmas markets, sausages, several glasses of mulled wine, a wee hill climb and the token visit to Primark.

Then we went home and napped for a while. Too much excitement! Saturday night we had several beverages then went to the Hot Dub Time Machine, which is a DJ night where he plays a song from every year since the 1950s. I was quite upset because they played Britney Spears while I was in the bathroom. Me and Britney go way back.

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Needless to say Sunday wasn’t all that productive, but it was just nice to chill and drink lots of tea. Weekends always go too quickly, but at least I have things to look forward to…

In a week and a half my mummy will be here, all the way from NZ, and my cousin will be here from Australia, just in time for Christmas!

In February, after lots of family time, I am heading down to the south coast of England to do another HelpX at this lovely place, helping them with running their B&B, yoga retreats and walking retreats. The plan is to spend a month there, after which I currently have no plan….

Asti and I have made a plan to go to Spain at the end of August, go to La Tomatina, then cycle the Camino de Santiago (a pilgrim’s way ) over a few weeks, then finish up in Morocco, learning to surf and doing yoga on the beach….

Sounds pretty good ja?

I just need to figure out the in between bits. There may be a return trip to Ireland over summer to help with their German Language Camp as a camp counsellor. This is where I did a HelpX this summer, a beautiful place that places a lot of value on Guinness, the beach and traditional Irish music. I think I’m going to have to give Achill a post of it’s own!

If anyone has any exciting ideas or suggestions for places I should visit this year, leave a comment below!

Tonight we are decorating the Christmas tree and drinking mulled wine in our Christmas jumpers. This is going to be a very different Christmas to what I’m used to in New Zealand!

Happy weekend, y’all.