Tag Archives: travel

Porto ay cha cha!

Between the 12th and the 16th Marcelo, Yuki, Sina, Dan and I went to Porto, Portugal to pass some time before classes started. The town, which is the origin of port wine (or porto) is incredibly ancient and the thick layers of moss and dirt accumulating on the buildings accentuates their beauty. Three out of the four days it rained, and we were absolutely sopping wet. Despite the disgusting weather, we had one exquisite day of sun – so…you can guess…we went to the sea! During the days we walked around everywhere, discovering tiny little streets, and continuing the endless quest for fish (which we finally found at Churrasquiera do Infante, a great CHEAP restaurant). At night, we prepared full dinners for less than 5 euros per person (which includes wine, beer, and porto) and stayed up talking until the wee hours of the morning. The trip was so much fun and I am so lucky to have such amazing friends!

Here’s a few photos and videos from the trip. You can also go to my youtube page to see more videos of the trip.

The first night in Porto!

An example of the street art in Porto and Yuki playing the air guitar.

One of the many churches we visited.

Dinner time!

This is a tram installed in the 1930s that we took to the seaside.

Fishermen by the ocean.

The poshest café in Porto – The Majestic

The Cathedral, built in the 1100s.

And some Portuguese guitarra for you:



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On Sunday night we got back from our road trip to Copenhagen, which included: two super long drives (approximately 14 hours the way there and 14 back), lots of hygge (a danish word that means cozier than cozy) time with family and friends, and lots of Danish beer and Danish food! We saw Pip for his 22nd birthday along with Oly, Kat, Tom, and Mattias (friends from IPC), my cousin, Theresa, for dinner and drinks at a bar where one of Arthur’s friends from Japan works, Nikolaj for a julebryg, and my aunt, Marley, my uncle, Nils, and Theresa for a delicious, home-cooked dinner that was perfectly hygge.

Here are some photos with captions from the trip.

Me driving

Olivier and Nicolas drove most of the way. This is me getting freaked out by German drivers, who drive incredibly fast!

Arthur in The Living Room

Arthur, in one of my favorite cafés, The Living Room (formerly known as Robert's Café)

Nicolas, Arthur, and me at Kongens Nytorv

Nicolas, Arthur, and me at Kongens Nytorv. The weather was pretty cloudy most of the beginning of the trip


Floss Bar, one of my favorite bars that has thick graffiti all over the walls. I think this bar kind of freaked out the boys. It also has a toilet that will make any French toilet look clean.


We visited Christiania, the famous Danish hippie commune, and visited one of my favorite lunch/café places inside the commune.


We went to my favorite museum in the whole world - Louisiana (www.louisiana.dk)


This is Kronborg, Hamlet's castle, in Elsinore (Helsingør). We drove here to visit my old school, IPC (www.ipc.dk).

The boys

Nicolas and Arthur on the boat tour around the Copenhagen harbour


Olivier in Nyhavn, on the boat, enjoying the sunshine

Den Lille Havfrue

The little mermaid (or Den Lille Havfrue in Danish). We went to see this because the boys had never visited DK

Vor Frelsers Kirke

Our Savior's Church (Vor Frelsers Kirke) in Christianshavn

Jule Bryg

With Nikolaj, a dear old friend, at Salonen. Danish christmas beer (Jule Bryg) was distributed on October 31st. This is considered to be one of the most important nights for Danes and they stayed out partying until 6 or 7am! (We could hear them from our hostel)


Nyhavn, by Olivier (approximately 4pm on Wednesday)


Nyhavn, by Lise (approximately 11am on Friday)

This trip was definitely a tongue twister for my mouth and head – I spoke French, English, and Danish in the same sentences in order to translate things all the time. And sometimes it was just easier to forget English all together and speak French and Danish.

On the way home, we stopped in Leiden, the Netherlands, to see Kim and Barry. We stayed at their amazing apartment (which they constructed themselves and is sooo cool!) and ate some delicious pumpkin soup that they made. Then it was back to France and back to school!

Hope you are all doing well! If you went on a trip for fall break recently, I want to hear about it! Please tell me in the comments!

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This weekend Olivier and I drove to Brussels to do Belgian things (ie: eat french fries and drink fancy beers at the famous Delirium bar) with our friends Ghet, Alex, and Irina. Here are some photos of the weekend!

Ghet ordering beers at the Delirium Bar

Ghet ordering beers at the Delirium Bar

Alex looking at the extensive beer menu (the largest selection of beers in world)

Alex looking at the extensive beer menu (the largest selection of beers in world)

My Pink Killer - a grapefruit beer

My Pink Killer - a grapefruit beer

The boys drinking their "devil" beers - Lucifer and Satan

The boys drinking their devil beers - Lucifer and Satan

In the main square

In the main square

Other than all that, I’ve been busy taking classes. I have signed up for 7 classes this semester which are:

– La France et l’europe en tendances
– Vie Politique Francaise
– Problemes Internationaux Contemporarians
– American Think Tanks: Ideological Propaganda or Academic Research?
– Intermediate French language
– European Welfare Systems
– World Cities

The classes with a French title are actually in French. I’ve decided to take the Certificate Etudes Politiques (Certificate of Political Studies) because it is highly esteemed here in France and I will look fancy on paper (also, it might help if I want to get a job in France or Europe). Taking classes in French is stressful – remember I’ve only been learning French for 7 months now – and sometimes I come out of class shaking because the teacher is talking so fast and I am trying to write/listen/concentrate/actually hear what she is saying. I might die. I might soar and fly and actually achieve this crazy goal. We will see! Thank god I still have 3 English classes, which makes me feel a lot better because I see the French students struggling to speak English and then I don’t feel so stupid anymore!

How are you doing?? It’s really becoming winter fast here – how is it there? Even if you read all this, just leave a little smiley face to let me know you are doing well (or a sad face if you are not).


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La Corse, l’Île de Beauté

San Ciprianu

Hello everyone! I just got back from Corsica, “the island of beauty,” after an amazing 10 day vacation. I’ve collected lots of memories, a few shells, and a couple of pictures so you can feel like you swam in the Mediterranean also!

On the evening of the 20th of August, Olivier and I arrived in Corsica at the Figari airport where, to my surprise, it felt like we landed in California because the weather is so hot and dry (normally 30 C and above!). We were met at the airport by Maud, Olivier’s big sister, and one of Maud’s best friends, Natalie. After about a 30 minute drive through the windy hills of the countryside we reached Le Martin Pecher, the house of Olivier’s grandparents, Maminic (Nicole) and Papili (Jacques). The house is a typical Corsican holiday house, a one story stucco with a beautiful terrace, surrounded by eucalyptus trees, pines, and lots of lizards and geckos. The house is located in San Cyprien (San Cyprianu in Corsu) in the south of Corsica, in the district of Lecci. San Cyprianu is written in white, on the southeast coast of the island.

La Corse

Most mornings were spent on the beach of San Cyprien or Pinarello, or touring the southeast coast of Corse with Michel and Danielle, Olivier and Maud’s great uncle and aunt. Michel and Danielle are absolutely wonderful. They must be in their mid-70s, but have very young spirits, and are so fun to be around. They also have an adorable terrier, Oscar, who loves to swim and eat the rind of cheese.


Going out on the boat was the best for reaching places without a lot of tourists and going fish hunting. Fish hunting is a favorite past time of the family and Olivier initiated me into the club. It’s so fun to swim quietly and slowing, then suddenly dart after a fish, pull the trigger of the rifle and attempt to capture the fish. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of shooting fish but since we ate every fish we caught, I thought this was a sufficient argument and therefore the sport is OK in my book. I did not catch any fish, neither did Maud, but Olivier caught 3 or 4. When the water was too stormy for my taste for fish hunting, I stayed close to the rocks and looked for shells among the schools of baby fish. It’s really sad that there have been so many tourists over the past 100 years because the island has been literally stripped of shells – I found only 3 tiny shells that were truly beautiful!

Olivier on the beach

On the second to last day in Corsica, Michel and Danielle took Maud, Olivier, and I to a protected reserve to feed the fish. Upon arrival, I discovered that the reserve was also a reserved beach for nudists! Avoiding the swimming nudists, we fed the fish baguettes – frenchy fishes! – and were so surprised to see HUNDREDS of oblades flock towards us and literally follow us like dogs back to the boat. (I didn’t take any photos but wanted to show you a picture of what the fish look like. I guess you will thank me for not taking pictures at a nudist beach, ha!)


In the afternoons, after taking long, relaxing lunches, with at least 3 courses (fruit, main course, coffee and tea with chocolate and drinking rosé like water) we were absolutely dead from all the food and stay inside to escape from the heat. At around 3 or 4pm we would slowly venture outside and normally take trips in Maud’s car to visit Porto Vecchio (Porti Vechju), where we ate cassis sorbet and drank Corsican beer, or Bonifacio (Bunifaziu) to admire the views of our neighbor Sardinia.

Southernmost tip of Corse


Lighthouse of Bonifaccio

One afternoon Olivier, Maud, Natalie, and I went hiking in the mountains to a massive waterfall near L’Ospedale (which can be seen on the map above). Most Corsicans lived in the mountains, not near the water, for defense against Italian and French invaders. Today, this could be considered protection against tourists who come to bronze in the Corse sun! A Corsican saying, “Look at the water but live on the land.” My favorite aspects of Corse were the the sharp, jutting mountains that pierced the sky. (Of course I cannot forget the crystal turquoise water of the Mediterranean, but the mountains are incredible!)

Mountains of Corse

At the beginning of the hike we made fun of the trail, trying to make it more “extreme,” laughing at the woman who was wearing high heels while traversing the gentle path. Then, suddenly, the path became SUPER steep and we had to literally rock climb down the mountain to reach the waterfall and scale the rocks to come back up. It was a seriously extreme hike by the end of the day! A few days later, on the 25th, Natalie took the back back to the real world and she was sorely missed! Also, as we made our way back down the mountains, we saw a terrible motorcycle accident. The couple, who was pregnant, died, either instantly or because the ambulance could not make its way fast enough through the small roads to the top of the mountain. My thoughts are with this couple and their families; what a terrible thing to happen.


We also celebrated my birthday while in Corsica and it was so much fun! The day was quiet, it was extremely hot, and we spent most of the day indoors. We only ventured outdoors to the beach in the afternoon as the sun was calming down. At night, after things had cooled down a bit, Maud, Olivier, and I went out to a seriously AWESOME pizza restaurant, the Corse are killer at making pizza, and drank a bottle of delicious Corse red wine. After dinner, we came back to the house, ate half of the huge plum tarte that Olivier and I had made earlier that day, drank rosé, and then walked to the beach for a midnight swim with plankton that SPARKLE! It was so amazing to watch the shooting stars above our heads and the shining plankton below our feet. A great 21st birthday!!


All in all, La Corse is now one of my favorite places on earth. At times, I was incredibly perturbed by the amount of tourists, by the floating trash in the water, by the cigarette butts on the beach, and just plain freaked out by some of the women’s breast jobs we saw. But I have utterly fallen in love with the mountains, the fish who swim carefully in and out of the rocks, the wine, the bubbling noises of French, Italian and Corsu mixing together, and the way the Mediterranean sun soaks like olive oil into your skin.

view of San Cipryanu and Porto Vecchio from Michel and Danielle's house

Now I am back in Lille, welcomed home by the rain. School started two days ago, and so far so good. I have met a lot of Swedish people, it’s funny how all the Scandinavians all coincidentally sat in the same area. But I seriously hope that my classes will not be as boring as my methodology class was today!!! Expect another post after this weekend with news of the Grande Braderie (one of the biggest flea markets in Europe with 3 million people!) and masses of people staying at our apartment for a huge party!

I would like to dedicate this post to my dog Daniel, who just passed away last Saturday. I just found out two days ago upon my return to Lille. He was a wonderful dog, a good friend, and a true member of the family. I loved him very much and am sad to know he is gone and that I was not able to say goodbye.



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To blog or not to blog?

As most of you know by now, I am terrible at keeping up correspondence. I also hate blogging but a friend, who has been diligently blogging about her summer travels, inspired me to start one. So here it is – my blog.

To whom I have sent this blog, I deeply care about you and don’t want you to think that I am a good-for-nothing niece, friend, daughter, etc. I know that I have not kept regular correspondence with many of you and even though these posts are not personal letters to each of you individually, they will be written with the same integrity, honesty, and love. This is my way of keeping in touch with you, in my little way, and I apologize for sucking so much at writing letters. I just hope I will be able to maintain this blog, otherwise I’ll have to start apologizing for sucking at blogging too…(ough, maybe this isn’t a good idea…).

My goal is to update at least once a week to tell you about what’s going on in my life right now. I’m not really sure what to anticipate but I think the blog will be mostly filled with my trials and  tribulations of living in France, university life, and such. If there is any information you think might be helpful to someone, feel free to pass the blog along. Also, PLEASE PLEASE comment on the post if you read it and want to tell me something. I want this to be a dialogue, not a one-sided conversation.

Current update:

I live in Lille, France with my boyfriend Olivier. I am on the longest summer vacation of my life and have so far: moved out of my student apartment in Charlottesville, gotten 4 impacted wisdom teeth out with a recovery of 2 days, saved a woman’s life by giving her CPR when she had a seizure and will now have CPR classes re-established in the Charlottesville public schools, studied in Falmouth, Jamaica for a month with a graduate level architecture course learning drafting and doing my own sociological studies on Caribbean masculinity for my Gender Studies major (I am a Sociology and Gender Studies double major at the University of Virginia), and am now in Lille.

This weekend my friends Hannah and Arthur, Olivier and I went to a music festival, Les Nuits Secretes, and had a great time dancing until early in the morning to some really awesome bands. (More to be written about this later, I think…)

I’m learning that the French language has many, many more exceptions than rules. That little French women stay skinny because they smoke like chimneys and eat like birds. And that some French men won’t stop saying Bonjour to you if they like your ass (though definitely not as annoying as the tttsssttt noise that Jamaican men make). Also, that I really need a haircut but am absolutely terrified to get one because I don’t want anyone to butcher my hair.

In short, this is a feeble (or maybe grand, depending on my level of laziness) effort to reach out to you and tell you what’s going on in my life. I know…this is a long long post, but it is the introduction and wanted to make it satisfactory and informative.

I hope you are all doing well and I send my love to each of you.


Olivier and me in Paris, March 2009


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