Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beaune: Cassisium and Hospices

Our first stop of the day was Cassisium, or the museum of cassis!

Museum qualifications have really gone downhill for Mom and Dad. From missionary museums in Hawaii to museums with bars! 

On the tour of how cassis is made

A very informative tour, but most importantly - it came with tastings! It certainly was much more alcohol than I was expecting before noon!

Hospices de Beaune and my lovely Mom and Dad
The Hospices of Beaune has functioned as a hospital for about 400 years. which is pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dijon; c'est chouette! (It's cool and owl-y!)

Dijon, the city of mustard, cassis and little owls called "chouettes" (side note, that phrased you learned in 7th grade French of C'est chouette" or "It's cool" actually means "It's a little owl!"

Our drive to Dijon was without incident which was a good start and the apartment that we stayed at was lovely as well. It was a bit of a ways from the city center, but it also meant that it was extremely large, especially by French standards.

Dijon (like many places in France) is known for its fantastic food. We are happy to confirm the reputation after eating at Chez Leon for lunch on the first day. The prices were just right and the food was simple yet exquisite. A very lucky and delicious find!

We also walked around Dijon a lot, following the chouette/ owl trail around the city for the main sights. There is a little carved stone owl on the side of the main cathedrale in Dijon, said to bring good luck to those who give it a rub. There must be many lucky people as the poor little owl has lost a lot of his features. I gave him a rub for good luck for the upcoming half marathon.

good luck for mom!

I couldn't pass up the opportunity when I walked by.

the owl trail around the city

such a pretty facade
Being in Dijon, we could not help but buying mustard to bring home as gifts and for personal consumption. I got some interesting flavors like black truffle and another with saffron. Of course, cassis was another flavor option to try.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

First days of vacation

Despite our best efforts, we had to resign our first few days of vacation to be a Montlucon vacation. While Montlucon isn't an awful place to live, it's not even close to a vacation location.

Snow covered just about everything, so while I despised the cold temperatures, it did make Montlucon rather picturesque. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fondue Night

My parents arrived to Montlucon without a hitch, though extremely tired from the plane ride and drive down. While I gave them Thursday to settle in a bit, on Friday they came over to see what my life is like here in Montlucon aka lots of food a drink!

We had a fondue night, as fondue is something that you can't really have by yourself, and you need  to share it with other people. 

We had both oil fondue for the meat leading to lots of charred pieces as no could keep track of the sticks, but also cheese fondue for the bread. 

Me and Momma

the kitchen before the storm really came through

toute le monde a la table!

Eddie, Catalina and Pierre-Luc

Lorena, Jose Roberto and Mom

Eddie, Lorena, Jose Roberto, Dad and me

Maria and some gooey fondue!

Maria and my parents. 
A very delicious and fun night :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ici, ici, C'est Mont Ferrand! And St. Bonnet Foret de Troncais; A weekend in the countryside

Once again, I spent the weekend with the lovely Cazeaud family. On Saturday, I headed into Clermont with Francois and the boys for the Clermont Rugby match. I forgot to put the memory card back into my camera, so no photos :( 

I don't really know or understand rugby rules, but I got the basic ideas down. One thing that I learned about rugby is that the players are really hot :) 

Clermont crushed the opposition 63-3. There were lots of team chants and enthusiastic fans, so it was a good ambiance. A wonderful time.

On Sunday the whole family (minus Charlenne who stayed in Clermont this weekend) headed into Foret de Troncais. My roomies and I actually had already visited it at the beginning of the year, but it's a big forest and this time we went to a different part. 

We walked around the big lake on the often muddy, but nice trail. It was sunny, crisp and the perfect day to be out and about enjoying the outdoors. 

Antoine, Francois, Marielle, Lian and Alois (the dog) and Emilian in front.
Antoine took this photo so I could get a photo with the family
View from chez Cazeaud
Chez Cazeaud

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cultural Differences

The biggest cultural difference between France and the USA: French purple scented markers are cassis instead of grape, light blue is menthol of all things. Sadly, the black marker is universally disgusting. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine!

My valentine this year was a DHL delivery, a large envelope with my Peace Corps paperwork. It wasn't the chocolate and flowers I was hoping for, but I'll take it all the same :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Despite our very small budgets, my roommates and I splurged for concert tickets to see VocaPeople.

VocaPeople is an a capella group that has kind of a funny gimmick to it, in that they are dressed in a white version of the blue man group with a little storyline of needing enough excitement from the crowd to power their spaceship and get back to their planet.

VocaPeople's newest members; Me, Maria and Alex!
I love a Capella and the concert was a treat and I absolutely loved it. A wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Big News!

I finally got my Peace Corps Invitation and I am headed to TOGO!

I leave in June 2013 though reading through all the paperwork is making me realize all the fun I'm going to have with two governments, paperwork, medical visits and two languages! 

I don't mind though as I am just excited to know that I'll be going. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chez Cazeaud

Marielle and the Cazeaud family have been extremely kind to me, inviting me to spend a lot of time with their family and weekends at their house. This Saturday we had a delicious raclette meal (only justified since I had run a half marathon in the morning) and Sunday was lazy, spent at the house.
Me, Francois, Marielle, Emilian,Charlenne, Lian, Antoine
Emilian is a huge ham and has also requested my near constant presence at the house :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My personal Montlucon- Neris-Les-Bains Half Marathon

I'm running the Paris Half marathon on March 3rd, which means I've spent a lot of time in France running and swimming in preparation for it.

I set out for a training run of 11 miles, but Nike+ on my ipod had an option to measure the half marathon length, so I figured I would give that a shot.

2 hours 30 minutes 17 seconds and a finished audiobook later I was back in Montlucon and had completed the full distance. I ran the half marathon distance a full half an hour faster than I did in May in Myrtle Beach. For that reason, this favorite quote of mine if particularly important:

The back of my tshirt from the Harriman Splash and Dash
Putting my feet up- well earned!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow in Montlucon

I woke up to an unfamiliar (and in my book, mostly unwelcome) scene- snow!

From my bedroom window
also from my bedroom window

From LEM, a view of the Chateau

A view of Montlucon

The Hotel de Ville
We've had some cold weather here, but for the most part, very little or no snow. I took advantage of the pretty scenery snapping some photos. It was lucky I did because by lunchtime it was all gone.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Webazine Celebrity

I was interviewed for the middle school's magazine that they put together every month or so. You can see from the pictures that they got all the important points- my picture, NYC and bagels.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Le Festival de Court Metrage

At the last minute suggestion and housing availability, I headed into Clermont on Friday with Eddie, Naomi and Sarah. When you look up information on Clermont Ferrand, you're likely to find out 3 things; 1. Michelin Tires are located there 2. The Volcanic Rock Cathedral (very dark and imposing) and 3. The Short Film Festival.

I hadn't planned on going. My experience in Austin with festivals had led me to believe they would all be over crowed, wallet gouging, stress inducing spectacles (that being said, I actually do love most Austin festivals (except SXSW). On Friday we were able to see the second part of the opening showing. They didn't really stick to one theme or style, which I liked a lot, though by far my favorite was a Swedish animated short, narrated by people talking about losing their virginity. It was interesting, humorous and touching and excellently crafted.

The next morning I headed out early (9:30am) to get in a set before lunch (they are set up so that basically you can go to shows at odd or even hours. Because of a set I wanted to see later in the day, I wanted to get out early). The first set included a short called "Helmut" which was about a mother and daughter on vacation visiting castles and was hilarious. I absolutely loved it. The others were good, but that was a standout.

After some lunch I headed back for films that included selections from the Lausanne Film School in Switzerland. I was surprised that many of them were old films, and I didn't particularly care for any of them. However, after that I reentered the room for a selection of African films which I was particularly excited about.

From the African films, there were films from Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritius. I really loved the one from Senegal which was a documentary about the skin lightening products women use to look whiter (which is so sad as so many Senegalese have such beautiful dark ebony skin) The different products end up causing cancers and other medical problems. The film was really well done, but you could definitely see a lack of money in the film. The resolution wasn't nearly as clear and had a grainy look to it in comparison with others.

I really loved "Cogitations" which was done as narrated interviews animated through color pencil line drawings. Really well done, and my over all favorite.

I missed the last film in the set and I had to run to the train station to catch the last train back to Montlucon that night, though the others stayed in town and had a bit of party.