Thursday, December 17, 2009

little things

Things I missed while I was in Paris/look forward to coming home to (in no specific order):

  • friends and family (of course) and the holiday season!
  • showers that actually work and that are not disgusting
  • english speaking people
  • a comfy bed
  • cupcakes
  • in n out burgers
  • good chinese food
  • the beach
  • warm weather- sun that actually gives warmth!
  • Target! and american convenience stores, where things are not so expensive.
  • space. everything in the city is so compact and cramped.
  • a complete wardrobe (i've been living out of a suitcase for 4 months here)
  • no more public transportation! I really don't have a huge problem with it, except when it closes at midnight, and after a tiring day of class when everyone is squished in the metro during rush hour getting all up in your personal space. Talk about claustrophobia.
  • just being home.

I know my list isn't very deep, but sometimes, its the little things in that make home, well, home.

my parisian life

I can't believe I'm packed. I'm currently sitting on the bed in my empty room, waiting to go to the airport.

How did these months go by so fast? My time here went from 4 months to a day in a blink of an eye. When I go out, I walk the streets completely aware that it may be the last time I see any of it, for a long, long time. I savor the leaves on the sidewalk, my walk to the market, the smell of the hallways in my building. As much as I've missed life back home, and I'm really looking forward to going back, don't get me wrong, a little part of me is sad to be leaving. 

I'm really going to miss this place. I know that very soon, I'm going to be caught up with life back in San Diego, applying to a new job or grad school, and Paris is going to seem like a distant dream. That makes me a little bit sad. I'll have the memories and the photographs, but it won't be the same. Standing under the Eiffel Tower is thrilling every single time no matter how many times I've done it, and looking at a photograph just doesn't do it justice. The same goes for Notre Dame, and the Louvre. 

In the course of my 4 months here, Paris became home. I have the route I take to class, the market I go to, the boulangerie I like to stop at after class. I even have my favorite staircase at the Louvre. I have my list of 'bests'- the best bread in Paris (the market around the corner), best tarte au citron (eric kayser), best crepes (le petit grec), best falafel (the marais). I know the metro routes I frequent like the back of my hand. I've seen the Luxembourg gardens in the fresh green of summer, the changing leaves of fall, and the snow covered branches of winter. 

Somewhere in the middle of getting lost on the way home from class and the whirlwind of final exams, I stopped being a tourist, and began to live in Paris. 

I stopped worrying about seeing all the things I wanted to see, because I had seen them all. I stopped noticing the differences between life in Paris and life back in California. Life in Paris wasn't so different from back home- I had class, ran errands, met up with friends- it just took place in the backdrop of the Pantheon, Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre. My life here became the norm, a home base that I looked forward to coming back to after my excursions. After all, home is something you always come back to, right? And I have a hunch that from now on, Paris is one of them. 


It's snowing in Paris!! 

Due to final exams, I was up at an ungodly hour this morning, when the streets of Paris were still dark and no coffee shop was open. So guiltily, I set up shop in a Starbucks right by campus to cram in some last-minute studying and defrost my fingers. Just as I was getting ready to walk to my final, it began to snow! By the time I got out of my exam 2 hours later, the streets were blanketed in a sheet of white, and snow was falling through the air like rain. I walked over to the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero, then the Champs Elysees and the Louvre to say my last goodbyes, and got my shoes soaking wet. It was worth it though. Snow! In Paris! 

What a way to end my stay. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009


In Morocco.


(I'm the one in the very front.)
it. was. awesome.

As you can see, I've been getting some vitamin D into my sunlight-deprived skin.

I also went off-roading. I never knew that driving over sand dunes could be so bumpy... good thing I don't get car sickness anymore, otherwise that wouldn't have ended well. We got to drive along the coast and see all the fishing villages. Here, the desert and barren wasteland turn into sand and shore, not like the marshes and lagoons we have in San Diego. I'm a little bit wary of going into the water after seeing a decaying dead dog on the beach yesterday. While its wonderful to be by the sun and shore again, I have to say that I've been spoiled by SD, and being here makes me miss it a little bit.

Coca Cola cans in Arabic and English!

Stop sign

Chicken and vegetable couscous. You can also get camel. Except Camel meat is expensive.

A normal street view of buildings and cars.

They cook in these clay pots. Our plates of food came with the fluted clay lids on top.

A snack bar at the airport. I love the mosaics and patters I saw in Morocco- so insanely beautiful!

Random shop I saw on the street.

The fountain inside the hotel. I've developed a new love for blue and white patterns.

How Agadir, Morocco is NOT like SD: Everything is in Arabic, if its not in French. There are still crepes and delicious bread, but there is also couscous and meat in clay pots. The scenery? Sensory overload-- beautiful arches and mosaics, blue and white patterns, kiln baked pottery... its so foreign and lovely. The cultural gap is a little weird though-- walking the streets without a burka like other women warrants stares from the locals. They call out and holler "Suede?" at my friends... and as for me, I haven't seen another Asian person since landing here. When I walk by vendors at the market, i'm followed by endless ni hao and konichiwa's. They don't seem to understand that I can be American yet Chinese at the same time. So here, I'm just Chinois.

Monday, December 7, 2009

faux fur

fur in Paris. photo credits
Women in Paris have this thing about fur. Or faux fur. Not just the lined collars, but the all-out mink coats and rabbit skin vests. I see them on the metro, in my classes, and on the streets. Worn by trendy young girls as well as rich old ladies. 

I mean, there has to be some reason they're exploding onto the shelves of H&M. People actually buy this stuff and wear it on the streets. And its not cheap. Just google "winter fashion in Paris."

Maybe its because I live in an area of CA where you never need more than a sweatshirt and flip-flops, or I'm used to laid-back UCSD where people look at you funny if you're not in the compulsory jeans/sweats attire. Maybe its a cold climate thing? In LA/SD the closest I ever get to animal hide is Uggs and the occasional leopard-print clubbing attire (worn on other people, of course). Maybe if I visit New York City, people will be trooping the streets in their furs. (Actually, deep down I fear PETA will come after me if I don the animal pelts) Either way, whenever I see people walk the streets in their furry costumes my mind can't resist the "I can't believe she's wearing that" comment. I'm by no means one of those crazy animal rights activists, and I'm not one to preach on what they should and should not be wearing, but you'll never see one of those on me. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

blue skies

the sunset from tour montparnasse. photo credits

I'm going to
 miss the blue winter sunsets of Paris. All my favorite colors, in every single shade.

Around 5pm, right when I get out of class, it begins to get dark. The sky will gradually turn all shades of blue, sometimes with streaks of pink, but most often its just blue. The one tonight was especially pretty- no pink and no clouds in the sky, just a gradient of blue going from a glimpse of sunny sky blue in the horizon to a true periwinkle to the steady blue of the night above.  I wish I could contain it in a bottle and take it home with me. I'd let it out every once in a while so everyone could enjoy it.

The sunsets in San Diego are streaked with purples, pinks, and oranges- just as pretty,  and I like them just as much (except blue is my favorite color). I've taken plenty of photos on my own camera, but they just don't do it justice, so I managed to find one that does to show you all. 

p.s. the Eiffel Tower really does light up and sparkle like that every night. When it gets dark, at the top every hour, it sparkles for 5 minutes. quite breathtaking. gets me every time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The clock tower in the village of Amboise

Uber-late post, but better late than never, right? I went to Amboise way back in October, which is in central France, in the Loire Valley. It was kind of like Germany in that there are SO many castles around here... I got the chance to visit 3: Chateau Loire, Villandry, and Usse. They were quite impressive, and they weren't even the huge main ones (Chenonceau is a pretty well-known chateau in the area), and I was cheateau'd out. 

In the region, there are lots of rocky mountains/cliffs- many houses are carved into the cliffs, which I thought was really cool. I saw entire apartment buildings carved into the mountainsides- complete with balconies! Imagine living in a cave house. 

Loire Valley/Amboise, taken from the tower of Chateau Amboise

Chateau Villandry- prettiest gardens I've seen while i've been here! 
This place was HUGE- and very manicured.

My favorite was the love garden. If you look closely, the four squares are different, symbolizing the 4 different types of love (tender, passionate, fickle, courtly). Get me one of these in my yard...

View of the chateau from the end of the love garden

Then we went to Chateau Usse- the inspiration for sleeping beauty. More commonly known as Sleeping Beauty's castle. The guy who wrote Sleeping Beauty actually stayed here for a while, and it was his inspiration for writing it. Its beautiful from the outside, but the inside is an absolute freak show- complete with mannequins of sleeping beauty and prince charming. And the evil witch and her cauldron at the top of the tower. It resembled a disneyland ride, but done very badly, and with mismatched period dress. Random. They could have done a wayy better job with the interior. And lose the freaky looking mannequins.

All in all , the Loire Valley was beautiful. The French royalty built chateaux all over the Loire Valley to get away from the bustle of Paris. In fact, most of the French royalty ruled from here, and not in Paris. That way they weren't harassed/taken prisoner by their constituents. Good times. There's not much to do here besides enjoy the countryside scenery, which I can only do so much of. What can I say- I'm a city girl!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


exactly what this week has been. Wilson left for the states on Friday morning- quite bittersweet. I'm elated that he came to visit, but then there's always the downer of parting ways. But at least we'll always have Paris, right? I managed to give him a thorough tour of Paris with the time we had- hooray! Here's some pictures of our adventures in the city of light. 

they were setting up the Christmas tree in front of the Notre Dame

recognizing our asian culture in front of the arc du triomphe

the ceiling of the arc du triomphe!

The Galeries Lafayette all decorated for Christmas

the HUGE tree inside

what better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to go to the Louvre? 

Note: If you ever go to the Louvre, go when it opens at 9am- its far emptier than if you go at, say 11am, and the experience is just so much more enjoyable when you don't have to fight through crowds. We went in around 9 and were out by 11, and had lots of fun laughing at the swarms of tourists trying to get into the Louvre as we waltzed out. 

Inside the atrium

preparing Thanksgiving dinner at my place :D
we had chicken, pasta, apple crumble, and peach champagne. yumm. 

Thank you for an amazing week, Wilson! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009



He randomly showed up at my door on Sunday afternoon. Yes, a spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous visit to Paris for the week so I wouldn't have to spend Thanksgiving alone. You cannot imagine my shock/disbelief/joy when I answered my door! I thought I was seeing things... he was supposed to be in San Diego visiting friends and snowboarding in NorCal for the week. 

I still can't believe he's here- its unreal. I'd wanted so badly for him to come and experience everything that I tell him about, and now here he is. We're having a very busy week seeing all the sights and eating all the culinary wonders Paris has to offer! I'm so excited to show him everything in the city i've gotten to know so well. I don't want this week to end, ever.... 

At the Apple store in the Louvre. Can you see the tip of the glass pyramid? :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

the adventures of bartholomew

...because it is long overdue.

Ice cream in a french cafe

visiting the hall of mirrors in versailles

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

espaces verts

Paris, being like any other metropolitan city, has lots of cars, too many people, weird smells, and too much noise. Get over your romantic image of 'la belle Paris,' people... 

However, Paris does have an appreciation for small green spaces. In a city where not many people have backyards, archways and balconies hang with vines, flower stands are popular at the metro stop as well as the market, and flower shops boast new arrangements every other day. French etiquette calls for bringing flowers as a polite gesture when visiting someone's home for dinner, and I've seen numerous people carrying home bouquets, along with their baguettes, on their way home from work. Here are some pretty snapshots I thought I'd share. Most of them were taken when I was walking around the Marais. 

without the vines, this archway would probably not be so eye-catching.
a cafe-restaurant I saw at the end of the street. It looks so cozy!
I was so curious I turned the corner to go check it out. Story of my wanderings- I follow whatever catches my eye, usually getting me lost. 

A bucket of flowers


more roses- I love this arrangement, despite my usual taste for the red/pink mix. 

tiny buckets

sunflowers- I was browsing some racks out in the front of a clothing shop, and i turn around  and BAM! these huge sunflowers were looking right at me. 

the street market at Corvisart metro stop- every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday morning.

gladiolas at the flower stand at the Versailles market

pretty flowers don't come cheap...

These pretty splashes of color are a sight for sore eyes- a nice break from the grimy sidewalks and gloomy days that autumn brings. Luckily, I get to walk through the Luxembourg gardens on my way to class, my window looks out onto the center green of the Cite U, and the Parc Montsouris is right across the street from my building. If I lived in the center of the city, squeezed in to the row upon row of tiny apartments, I think I'd really miss the big green spaces I take for granted at home. 

There are huge parks here- the Luxembourg, the Tuileries, the Jardin des Plantes- but unless you're lucky enough to live near them, a nice big park with lots of green lawn (that does not say 'pelouse interdit' - do not walk on the grass) is a rare find. Even at the Jardin Tuileries, it is much more likely that your shoes get coated with dust from the gravel of the meticulously landscaped Parisian garden than mud from the grass. Oh Parisians- what use is gravel and trimmed topiaries?  It makes me feel so confined and restricted, like I'm still in the city and still need to abide by the rules of civilization. I thought the idea of the park was the bring us all back to nature...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

pâtisserie des rêves

The dude who opened this patisserie, Philippe Conticini, also wrote a cookbook that consisted of all nutella recipes, so of course it merited a visit. Two, in fact. This place is apparently one of those new chic and trendy patisseries. Think the 'Sprinkles' of bakeries (although there are no cupcake vendors in Paris- the horror!). It uses trendy deco as opposed to your mom and pop shops with checkered curtains enticing you with the smell of old country bread (I walk by these on the way to class) or the mainstream commercialised patisseries (like brioche doree, or pain au pomme, your McDonalds of patisseries). Patisseries are everywhere in Paris- something I will definitely miss when I am back in L.A. and without my fresh bread that only costs 50cents.

Talk about presentation- all the pastries were displayed under glass cases that made them look like prized jewels. Notice the weights hanging from the ceiling- those actually come down when you lift one of the glass covers. So cool!

a close-up  

our purchase. included: cloth napkins. 
notice the cool window display!

close up shot of an apple tart (i think) sitting in the front window. 
I wanted to try everything! 

I love how their brioches look- like a little mountain of whipped cream! 

the final purchase! Apparently its a traditional Parisian pastry.
Annemarie and I took this to the park and devoured it (after taking numerous pictures)

the cross section. 
Think cream puff meets eclair meets millefeuille. 

I would go back if I had time, but there are simply too many places to try in the short time I have left! The first time I went, they were out of everything. No joke- most patisseries only make a day's worth of pastries, and sell out by the end of the day. Patisserie des Reves is hip enough to be sold out- I went around 3pm the first time, and they were already sold out. Lesson learned. 

I went to Angelina's the other day , and will post about that soon! Sorry I'm so spotty about posting- life is hectic, with me jetting off every few days or so. I was in Dublin this past weekend, and will be going to Mont Saint Michel this weekend!