I went out on my first night in Uppsala with my friend Arash, his friends that came too, that also were with me in Midsommafton a few years ago! Random, no kidding! Carolina, this lovely girl from the North (GO TEAM) was with us and we danced like fiends. What makes a disco or even a little bar in Sweden so much better than France? The music of course is fabulous, and I danced to Måns Zelmerlöw for the first time without being alone in my room!

So I met some other people there, and danced with what I think was a guy but apparently was a very butch lesbian (still unknown). One of Carolina’s friends, Jonas, was introduced to me in a kuffel and then we ended up talking later on. It turns out that what he said to me was very thought provoking, generous, flattering, and really kept my mind occupied for a few days.

He started out by asking about after parties and what I thought of them and what I liked in them. I answered honestly, saying that I didn’t know much about them and it’s been a long time since I was a student so I didn’t really know. He pressed on, and I still replied the same way, whilst feeling that he was sort of trying to convince me to organise something, of course I couldn’t cause I didn’t even know where I was for goodness sakes! In any case, something came up about intolerance, the DJ being horrible (although I protested) and then the fact that I’m sort of reserved and holding back. I laughed at this, and rebutted, which drew what he called to be the only genuine, and best smile of the night. I didn’t know what to say, except laugh and continue to dance. It kept me thinking though. I’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching, sing like nobody’s listening, and live my life each moment.

How can I manage this at all? I’m too controlled and reserved for such. I can’t stop thinking about what was said, it’s driving me crazy. So what do I do then? I did some stalking on Facebook and sent a message of thanks, and perhaps the option of meeting up later; yet to have a reply but in any case I did it… I’m so lame.

After the very difficult wonderful dinner, CSI, and sleeping evening I thought that it would be really difficult to top. Well I am wrong as usual and I had another great day. The sun was shining, the birds were churping, the bees were fornicating; all a recepie for a lovey day! So after deciding that we were going to do the ‘classical’ sight-seeing things this day, ie the castle etc., we went to get milkshakes from McDonalds (greatest invention ever!). They are really cheap there too, so I was superduper happy. Strawberries *drools* anyways!

So we embarked on our walk over towards the castle region across the bridge which was crawling with tourists. It’s almost disgusting how many tourists where there, touching things that were dirty and just being annoying tourists. At least we didn’t look like tourists or act like them; rightfully so because then I’d feel like hating myself! So we played spot the tourist, with all the tour groups around and the like we tried to identify languages and just chit chatted about history and such whilst basking in the sun. I’m surprised that I didn’t get more burnt to be honest! We finally made it through the seas of toursits, and began the journey up to the castle, the way that wasn’t the normal one like the rest of the tourists (yes we hate them that much).

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Stairs upon stairs upon stairs upon Russian tourists which smelt badly, we finally made it to the top with all the cobblestone roads not making it easy to walk. Despite wearing Birkenstocks, it was still a comfortable journey! Gotta love’em. We arrived just in time for the changing of the guard at Hradčanske Náměstí, and there were tons of Texan tourists. Couldn’t help but laugh there. The important part however was the interesting differences between Czech guards and British ones. These ones can look at whatever they want and aren’t statues. Sure they don’t move much but they are allowed to if they have an itch or need to blow their noses (seems less like a dictatorship to me! :)) But they still wear traditional uniforms and look like they are going to die in what they are wearing.

The building just behind was pretty nice, who knows what it was, because at this point Matthew just needed water. The closest water location had water at 99:-, and come on people it’s sad that tourists would actually pay that! It should be around 25:- at the most, but of course being a tourist area and having no choice they bought it. We held off knowing that we’d find better, and of course we did after keeping ourself famished for long enough. Torture equals goodness for all those who didn’t know!

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We took the non touristy way around the back gardens which were lovely also because they were semi-secluded. The stones along the walls that you could lean on were very cold despite being in the sun, so of course we make jokes about hawtness and well yeah, use your imagination. Onward ever striving onward led us to more guards and an entrance way into towards the church; Katedrála Sv. Víta / Sv. Vaclav. Absolutely stunning archetecture with a mix between more modern classical and gothic status. Notice the gargoyles on the second photo which I assume keep away demons, but at the same time act as drain pipes for rain. What a clever invention those crazy Czechs! The small passages that we followed to avoid the baking sun were really nice, and included a good view of the city, as well as of what lies below in the quatiers. Further to that the steps going down were a lot steeper and slippier going down so I struggled down trying not to make a fool of myself (which I probably achieved in trying to avoid the weirdness). However, upon our decent to the older part of the city something caught our eyes, it might have been the flicker of us being blinded by the sun, but more likely the reflection upon water that we saw. A Quiet little courtyard hidden somewhere; so we went to find it!

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The view is spectacular, and the little courtyard was difficult to find. We made a turn into one that we thought it would be, which turned out to be a smaller weak one; but our observantness was able to locate one through another door (locked) so we went through the metro station and there was tiny little enterance. The sign told us not to bring a lot in, amongst witch was guns (funny that). So we went in and there was this huge square pond with tons of huge fish (I assume carp) swimming about and a nice little fountain. The quietness and serenity was gruarded by the fact that it was a hidden place name Vrtbovská zahrada, which was a botanical garden. Hardly anyone there, and the ones that were there were nice and calm and quiet. It’s nice to be away from all the touristy things.

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Upon walking through the gardens I saw a peakcock with no feathers that was grooming itself and which led to a sort of maze in the grass which was very nice. There was something that caught my from a distance, which was rather funny, and no it’s not because I’m a whore, just because it made me laugh and made me think of something. What could three naked men wrestling amongst themselves with a snake make me think of? Robb of course! So after telling Matt this we just had a laugh and I took a photo, Robb is the one on the bottom being dominated (Haha TBB!) and what makes it all so ironic is that he’s afraid of snakes. So perfect beyond words! Yonder still from the statues was this really funky wall called the “Grotto” which was a man-made wall to depict several things next to the aviary. It was pretty nifty, and so hidden it made me feel special for us to find it!

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Above was this really nice statue for the Czech Republic commorating occupation during the Second World War, and the latter picture was the Opera House that I correctly identified the first time at complete random. It looks like one doesn’t it?

In other news, we had these really awesome little ice-creame things that were a mix between strawberry and banana, simply delicious and popular too, in helping with the heat that was killing me. Lots of walking does that to you I suppose, and then we headed home to take a little break before going out for dinner. Something that I forgot to mention was that one of Matt’s Czech friends, Vojta, stopped by to burn DVD for his brothers birthday (how nice of him). He’s really sarcastic, but nice, short-lived visit never-the-less. There was an incident with a large bee-like bug that got into the flat, and Matt being allergic had a little freak attack whilst we trapped it in a mug and took it outside. It was really funny; we gave it a name, which I don’t recall. I hope that it’s still alive and terrorising other people and bringing them such happy moments!

We were getting ready to go out, because he was taking me to Valentino’s after dinner, a nice club that I was very scared of in Praha 2. We had issues finding places that didn’t have tomatoes in the menu so we folded and went to KFC, which I haven’t had in forever so it was great! There were annoying British guys there playing eye-spy (?) and being loud and obnoxious. So we played the game to figure out where their accents were from. I failed miserably, but felt self conscious cause they kept looking our way; anyways!

So we head off to the club, which wasn’t too far of a walk. Amongst the streets there were people trying to pull us into their strip bars and such, and my experience in France with ignoring people actually helped. Just don’t even acknolwledge their existance and all is good. Interestingly the beggers actually get on their knees and beg here, much better than the lazy-ass sitters on the streets of Strasbourg. We went in and I was hella-awkward, but we went to get a coke because I was under the impression that I didn’t want to drink that night; I’d rather feel around and not worry about anything. The people that worked at the bars were nothing short of goregous, but a little self-absorbed, made me laugh of course.

We went down to the lower level as there weren’t that many people there, and sat down whilst talking we spotted serveral interesting characters. One of which we referr to as “Dreamboat” for obvious reasons to which I won’t go into extreme detail. Let’s just say that any artistic sculpture by any famous artist would be put to shame by this specimen of human. Enough said. So we stalked him for the evening, to pass the time whilst semi-dancing and observing what was going on. There was a funny video going on above the beer bar that interested me, but mostly the self-absorbed half naked people dancing on the stage whilst strung out made me laugh the most.

We left a bit early as we were tired and saving our energy for the following night; so we trekked the way back and then talked for many hours and finally went to bed. It was just nice evening filled with good memories and funny things going on all around!

So what am I doing up at 05.00 in the morning? Just coming home from a disco in Kehl. We decided last minute to go there to check it out. It actually turned out to be a really classy place despite being a million miles away. Bloody cab fare was horrible though on the way here from Strasbourg. At about 20€ there, and at 04.00 it was 30€ total for 12 people. That’s right, we broke about a million laws and fit 12 people into a little minivan. My hips hurt from being squished. 

Anyways, discos in Kehl are, interesting. Classy and yet dirty at the same time. There was nobody there, which was weird, so we took it all up but I can imagine how some nights it’s jumping. Linguistically it’s a bitch, but right now I’m in no conditon to be making in depth analysis of Germany. Anyways, untill tomorrow!

Wie Ghets Deutschland!  

Ova’n’out  

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Wonderful, fabulous, extravigant, awe-inspiring, relaxing, amazing. These are all of the adjectives that can describe my last few days in Lyon. I left on Wednesday morning and I arrived back Saturday night, and I can honestly say that I had an amazing time, after doubting things. I will start from the beginning ;).

Wednesday morning I woke up a little early, despite going to bed fairly late, and I was getting packed up because my train would leave at around noon. I figured it would take about a half-n-hour to get there, so I planned my day accordingly. I left my room to go get a baguette, and when I walked outside I just about had a heart attack. Suddenly over night the temperature must have dropped about 20°C because I was freezing, and I could see my breath. On top of this, it must have been a northerly wind because I caught a chill so quickly it wasn’t even funny. This was a Wednesday, and I realized that most students had gone home, so I figured that’s why the streets were empty and nothing was running. The only difference, was that I didn’t realize that it was a national holiday. I only found this out after walking by my baker’s and it being closed, so I hung down a little street in hopes that I would find another. To no avail; so I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to eat anything substantial in the next 10 hours, due to the lack of food and bread (since I didn’t want to keep too much in the fridge while I was gone). Instead I ate peach yoghurt, yummy!

I got all settled and everything packed, and started to walk over to the train station. I figured that I would make good time, so I didn’t bother to take the tram, but since it was a holiday they were on weird hours anyways. So I walked and it was a lovely day, cold, but lovely never-the-less. I got to the train station with like 10 minutes to spare and went to get my ticket checked, and find my track. I didn’t realize that I went to the wrong track until I go down the hallway, and then ran back to see that it had changed. So I ran to track 8, and made it just in time to get in. In all honesty I didn’t know how the seats were divided, since I didn’t know that there were numbered cars. So I tried to find my seat, and someone was sitting in it, so I just asked him to move so I could get into the window seat, no problem. I didn’t realize that I was in the wrong car until we got to Mulhouse and some little kid was eyeing me, him and his mother found another seat but I felt guilty the whole time! But now I know how the train works; make a mistake once and never again (or so I shoud hope).

The train ride was pleasant and warm, despite the coldness of the outside, and within 5 hours I had arrived to Lyon – Part Dieu, which is the second largest train station in France, second to Paris (obviously). So. the whole reason that I was going to Lyon was because I was invited to spend some time with a friend of mine Cédric, and yes he’s French, which would make him my first French friend. haha. He’s a teacher and he has the same holidays as me, so he invited me to come stay with him and to see the south of France, which is a lot different than the north! He lives in Saint-Étienne which is about 45 minutes, and his boyfriend lives in Lyon, so apparently I would be going to both and being showed around and such.

Upon arriving at the station, I took my bags and went into the waiting area as instructed looking for Cédric, but in all honesty I saw someone who looked like him but I wasn’t sure that it was him. So I walked around for awhile and then he called me asking me where I was and I was like right behind him so it was kind of awkward. He was a bit shorter than I expected, but it’s all good, and apparently he saw me, thought it was me, but then thought to himself ‘no he’s far too young looking.’ Funny that, eh? Anyways, he was super polite and even offered to take my bags, but since I’m already feeling useless I figured I could carry my own. We went down to the parking area, and he told me we would go back to his boyfriend Chris’ house to get his stuff since he didn’t have time to pack. This would be the first time in a car while in France, and boy was it scary. He drives like a maniac, but so does everyone else! The cities are created in such a way that it’s impossible to not drive like a maniac, so it’s normal. So we talked and arrived to Chris’, which is a gorgeous apartment in downtown Lyon. They had a friend over from their university years, Natalie, so I met her and we chit chatted for awhile while Cédric packed his things. Natalie and Chris were not sure if I spoke French so they were sort of awkward for awhile, but then I had the guts enough to tell them that I understand and they were releived since they hardly spoke any English, apparently.

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So we departed after talking a little bit for St. Étienne, a city 45 minutes west of Lyon, where Cédric lives and works. It was a lovely drive, and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would but that’s mostly because French people drive quickly and crazy! We arrived and got settled, and I helped make a quiche, something I never had done before. It turns out they are very simple to make, and now that I have the recepie I know how to make it and I’m going to try to make it myself one day soon! Cédric informed me that we were going out for dinner to a collegue of his, and on the way we basically got lost and needed to call for directions. It’s quite funny, since French people swear a lot, and the city is all up and down hills so it’s difficult to slow down or move around without going crazy. So we got to the apartment and I met Hélène and her boyfriend Sébastien who are both school teachers and very pleasant. They are a little bit older and more experienced, and unfortunately she had a sore ankle from running so Cédric and Sébastien helped her move some furnature while she is repainting her flat.

We chatted a bunch, had some wine, and then ate the quiche and some pasta which was wonderful. During all this we are chit chatting away about some philisophical things, and the amount of sunlight different places on earth have. It was a pleasant evening until Cédric and Sébastian left me while she explains laws or something, which I barely understood, but smiling and nodding usually helps. 🙂

We departed and returned home and I looked at all his books since he has about a million. More specifically his method books for French class as a maternal language student which was really cool and it turns out that they are much less expensive, so I’m thinking of either stalking up while I’m there, or returning to France some point to get of the work. Anyways, we went to bed after Cédric struggled with his computer for awhile, and all was pleasant.

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Waking up at 10.00 usually means as it says, but according to Cédric time, it means waking up at about 11.30 and struggling around. It’s funny, but true. So after this we set out to see St. Étienne with him, and he showed me all the monuments and such, which is all a pleasant little city with nice churches and even has nice markets. Everything is cheaper than Strasbourg too, and the markets are nicer. I wish we had them like they have there!

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We went back to the apartment to make some soup and ate it, and then progressed to lounge around and talk about stuff for the afternoon until we left to go for an excursion in the late afternoon. He decided to take me an old medevial town called Chambles and La Roche which are both medevial remote towns along the Loire River. They were breathtaking and the view was extravigant with the abandoned castles which were super-cool. I took some pictures and since it was so bitterly cold, and Cédric is from Mersailles where it’s always warm, he couldn’t bear it anymore so we headed back to St. Étienne and chilled there for awhile. We gossiped and chatted from about 18.00 until about 01.30 or so about just about everything, until we realized the time and then ate dinner (finally). It was really nice, and I learned a lot about things, and since it was so intellectual I felt slightly stupid since I haven’t been exposed to intelligent conversation in a long time. What does this tell me about the people I’m around? haha

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After some more chatting and such, we went to bed and I woke up early since we had to head to Lyon. Chris works during the evening so we decided to explore Lyon while he slept, so for the whole day we were downtown. We went for lunch at a friend of Cédric’s bar/resteraunt, and I had some amazing food after running into one of his friends, Lionel. Quite frankly this guy was weird and creepy, but he was nice. He seemed to think that Sweden is next to Italy, so at least he had some sense of humour, or something. After chatting there for awhile we went on exploring the city. Churches, old caverns, monuments in the downtown core were the schedule and they were all beautiful. We even got to go through some of the old secret pathways that were made during the German occupation, which hid people and was part of the resistances. I learned a lot about the city and history since Cédric was a historian. He’s really intelligent and I was so happy to have a tour guide. After climbing this huge hill we got to a cathedral and explored it and I saw the Eiffel Tower, Lyon style. That’s to say it looks like it, but it’s in Lyon; it’s a good joke!

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After this we went to the old Roman part of the city which is basically ruins. We had to pass the most expensive resteraunt / bed-and-breakfast on the way and were shocked to find out that the lowest cost for room per night was 189€ and the least expensive meal was 170€ without wine. Let’s go next year, ok? 😉 The ruins were amazing and were used for dramas and town meetings during the times of about the first century. Amazing isn’t it? We went to the bottom and after Chris called to see what we wanted for dinner, we read some tombstones which were in Latin, and since he’s a Latin teacher he could read them. It was amazing!

We searched around the city for some stuff and then went back to the flat, and relaxed for awhile chit-chatting and such as I edited a letter Cédric was sending to his thesis supervisor. Chris is hillarious and awesomely nice, and just in general they are both great. They are also a really cute couple, and really it’s the littelest things that an observant person like me notices, that make the difference in the relationship. We had some salad and some pasta which was amazing (chez Chris) quite frankly and then I was informed of what we had to do that night. Friday night, meant we had to go to 2 parties that Chris was expected to be at. He’s a nurse at the hospital and his old work and his new one were both celebrating some people moving or something, so we prepared and went out. Cédric and I felt akward since none of us knew anyone at all, but all was well.

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As the French do, la bise (kiss), when I was introduced to about 50 people I had to kiss them of course. How irritating, but it was all okay. I got to meet Cathérine, Chris’ best friend, as well as a crazy funny girl named Caroline who loves IKEA and didn’t hide it at all. Also we met a friend of his who is married to a professional ski racer who won the Olympic Gold medal in Turin. His name was Antoine Dénériaz, and his wife was a good friend of Chris, so basically I got to sit next to and talk to a celebrity for like 20 minutes. He was really nice and cool about the whole French language thing for me, but he has a huge ego. What does one expect though, oh well! I will e-mail his fan site I think and say hi and such, we shall see if I remember or not!

After everyone was leaving and I had to kiss all 50 people again, we headed off to the other party where I had to do the same thing to about the same amount of people. I don’t remember any of them in all honesty, so it was a blur and everyone was akward. Then we were invited out to go to disco that evening. I was surprised but we walked over Chris got all defensive and said that we were going to a gay disco. I shit you not, and I was getting all uncomfortable and the two of them told me that if anything made me uncomfortable, just to say so and they were help or stop or something, and I said okay don’t worry! So we got there, and I met all the younger collegues that were there, I don’t remember any of them, and barely their names, but again I had to kiss about 10 people. So we got there, and it was a door that was bolted shut with barbed wire and looked like a prison, I was sort of creeped out and wondered what was happening. They knocked and a young kid opened the door for us after looking through the peep-hole, and then we put our coats in the bar area. Apparenty the disco was downstairs, so I realized I had to (stupidly) go to the bathroom.

What a horrible idea this was, after I found it I opened the door and found out that the bathroom consisted of a hole in the ground, and a bucket of water. I had never seen anything like it before, and it took me like 5 minutes to figure out how to do it all, and then left, and was scarred for life. So as we were going down the stairs to the ‘cave’ Cédric asked me if this was my first time to a gay disco, I said yeah and he gave me a crazy look and then warned me about some stuff. After that I was very scared!! Everyone there was old and creepy and just I don’t know how to describe it, but it was awkward for the first hour or so. Anyways, after I was nearly attacked a million times, I hid in the corner and Chris and Cédric protected me. Catherine finally arrived and then this other girl wanted to dance but didn’t dare going alone, so we all joined her. The music was weird French stuff from the 60s set to disco beats, so everyone knew it except me. There was this creepy guy dancing weirdly that was clearly high, but it was entertaining to see him make a fool of himself!

So we were dancing away, rather I was, because the French just sway back and forth. Basically I looked like a freak but nobody said anything, since I didn’t know any of them. Anyways after a few hours, and the circle rotating since a creepy guy was trying to feel me up, and frankly I didn’t want that, I found mysef in the middle of the circle somehow. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but I remained there since there wasn’t any other room anywhere else, and I was just dancing and having fun. At about 04.30 we ended up leaving since they were tired, but I could have gone forever, so we had to kiss everyone there and depart and such, so then it was freezing and we couldn’t find a parking spot. Finally we got somewhere then we went to sleep, it was a wonderful night and I had tons of fun!

The next day we woke up and struggled to the train station after showering and such. Cédric told me that the friends told him that I was awesome fun and that they thought I was fun to have around, since I was so different. I was worried since I didn’t talk to them, and they probaby thought that I was weird since the way I danced. I saved Catherine at one point though cause a guy was trying to like hump her, so I went and danced with her, she was very happy and releived after giving the guy the evil eye though. Anyways, they didn’t know I was foreign, but I figure that they guessed it, but as far as I know I was well liked though which was good. So Cédric and I talked a bunch going to the train station, and he dropped me off when the train arrived and my journey home commenced.

I was pooped, and I was releived and sad to be going home. The train station was closed so we were dumped in some random train station 10 mins from Strasbourg. I didn’t want to wait for the connecting train so I saw a tram stop and took the tram home, so much easier than the millions of people in the station! I got home, and it was freezing and then I got something to eat and just relaxed. I got a phone call from Cédric asking me to come back another time, which would be awesome I told him, and he’s glad I made it home in one peice!

What a wonderful week, and I had a blast. I didn’t want to come home since I was enjoying their company so much, but alas here I am and now I have to go to class in the next few days. Booo on that!

So, Netherlands next weekend now? Any objections? Not from me!

Apparently since Wednesday things haven’t been so exciting. And why would this be you ask; because I’ve fallen ill. I thought that I could escape it and keep myself healthy while here, but I suppose it was inevitable! Thursday morning I woke up and was feeling a slight scratch in the back of my throat, but I thought it was just some dryness since the air here is really dry, but as the day progressed I found my sinuses going crazy and then getting excessive nosebleeds. It turns out I have a cold, but of course this didn’t stop me from going out on Thursday night, the night of parties in France since everyone goes home for the weekend. So Nic and Sarah send me a texto saying that they are going to the Salamander at 23.00, so I think, fine fine I will suck it up and go have a good time just becasue I was bored and stressed from school a bit.

I got ready, and we all were late that day, but I was mostly just a bit irritated becasue my teachers aren’t being really clear about when something is ‘due’ and when it’s ‘due’ to be handed in. Apparently we are supposed to read their minds, regardless I managed to get everything handed in and nothing too crazy was happening. Right, so getting ready and then we were all late and we walk over to the Galia after visiting Zara and Matthieu who were going somewhere else. We said hellos and then left for the party, and of course as always Nic has his huge entourage with him. Whole bunch of Americans were there, lets see if I can remember their names. The were Sara from Rhode Island, Jessica from Syeracuse, Sarah from Maine, Lisa from God-only-knows-where, and then some random girl who I don’t even remember being around us that night. Anyways, we get to the disco and Ginette’s mom calls her mobile so she ditches us for awhile and we go in and it’s lame to the max. Apparently it was Economics night, and everyone there was weird, and it was mostly guys just sitting around, but the most disturbing thing was the fact that they were playing 80’s funk. When I say funk, I mean serious funk that it’s impossible to dance to, so after ‘attempting’ and clearly the rest of them not being drunk enough to continue they go and ask the DJ to change it and he says ‘I’m not allowed’ so we are all thinking ‘lame!’

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