Month: February 2015

Marseille: city of contradictions

Another six weeks of school, another two week vacation. And this time we wanted to get the heck out of the snow and mountains, so we booked a TGV to MARSEILLE! Marseille has a certain reputation in France… the kind of reputation that made our friends’ eyes widen and say,  “Attention, hein?! Be careful!” when we announced our trip. So then when there were reports of a shooting there the day before our planned departure, we had to make a serious game plan, which essentially boiled down to “DON’T BE AN IDIOT” (sidebar: the shooting was non-fatal and most likely a result of the visit to the city of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. My favorite part of the story is that Valls was in Marseille to congratulate the city for their recently reduced crime rates.) And anyway, when has the threat of a little street violence ever been good reason to cancel a trip?! If that were the case, no one would ever go….to most major cities in the US……

Winter. Or, how many times can I write the word snow in one post*?

Living in between three giant mountains has its perks…namely the stunning views and the easy access to hundreds of hikes and walks. And, one would think that living in the Alps would mean an endless supply of winter snow!! But this winter, one would be wrong. At the beginning of the winter sports season, the Savoyards were in a panic because of an unusually un-precipitous December: HOW WILL WE SKI IF THERE IS NO SNOW, they cried. Slowly, we could see the snow approaching on the mountaintops, but never did it make it down to us lowly inhabitants in the valley. For weeks we watched beautiful flakes falling from the sky only to run outside and find it had all immediately melted on contact. Even though the ski stations by now have more than enough snow, I still felt gipped…So on one particularly snowy day, Julia and I ventured out for a romp in the lightly accumulating fluff.

Train ticket trifecta

Something strange has been happening in France. It started on our TGV from Marseille back to Chambéry. We were met at our platform by three SNCF agents checking everyone’s ticket before being allowed onto the train. Then, during the journey, the conductor came by to check our tickets again. Then, on our TER regional train between Lyon and Chambéry, our tickets were checked for a third time. For those of you wondering what is so strange about this scenario, let me introduce you to my friend, Neal.

Blog Update: THE MAP!

Just a quick note to update you all about a new feature on my blog: The Map! This is something I started while studying abroad in Paris as a way to memorialize all the monuments I saw, restaurants I ate at, bars I drank at, etc… but then let fall by the wayside. The other day, after an exhausting week of work I fell asleep at 8:30pm and woke up at 4:30am, full anew of energy. So, I decided to do some blog maintenance and re-stumbled on the map! It is now integrated more fully into the blog, with quotes and links to posts, and fully updated to reflect the past 5 months living in Chambéry as well. Please take a few minutes to browze through it; I put some hard work into it and have to say I’m pretty proud of how it’s turning out! Thanks, as always, for reading!!!

The chicken.

One of my French teachers once observed the difference between French and English: English has a million words which all have the same definition. French has only a few words which all have a million definitions. How confusing is it that Je suis means “I am” but also “I follow” depending on the context. And don’t even get me started on the insane number of homophones; because of the mystical rules of French pronunciation, words like parler, parlez, parlé, parlais, parlait, and parlaient are all pronounced the exactly the same way.