Sunday, February 26, 2012

walking pants and running noses.

it's 1:30 AM on a sunday night, i'm exhausted and so i thought i'd blog some things (makes sense, right? always):

first, i'm sick. this reeeeally bites because i just barely got over a nasty sickness i contracted around mid januray. yes, that's right. i've barely had a few weeks respite before my body gave in to another illness. i've been doing so much walking with my legs as of late that it's like my nose is trying to catch up by running continuously. (that sentence probably sounded better in my head but i'm leaving it. yep)the worst part? sickness + expensive medicine= high probability for sinus infection. wah.

because medicine is so expensive over here i figure letting myself sleep is the next best thing to getting healthy again. between feeling under the weather and coming home so late last night from traveling, i let myself lounge around all day today.
story time: because we got home late-ish last night from our week long adventures around germany i was feeling sick, i was tired, and i had zero desire to unpack. so basically when i woke up this morning my apartment was a wreck. i had no plans of really leaving my apartment today so i broke out the laptop and started editing pictures (which i still have a crap ton to edit: speaking of which, PICTURE BREAK!)

me on prague's oldest bridge, looking as suave as ever.

 in my pajamas. no make up, bed head, the whole package. at about one there was a knock at my door. i was aware of just how attractive i must have looked at the moment so i contemplated just ignoring it. luckily, i braved the knocks because it turned out to be my roommate and her boyfriend. her name is marina, she's 18 and from russia and her english is a little rusty. and i met her in full blown hobo mode. so embarrassing. even though i looked super gross she still talked to me, with the help of her boyfriend who translated a little. she even gave me some of this little cupcake/muffin thing her mom made. i'm glad that was her first impression of me. i figure i'm setting the bar really really low so it'll be all uphill from there, right? right...

oh! part of taking today easy also consisted of finding the where my mail comes in this building. and consequently finding a valentine's card from my mom. what's the best kind of valentine? one that comes a little late and therefore a very unexpected and pleasant surprise.

today also marks the first day i've cooked dinner for myself in the kitchen here, which i know sounds a little ridiculous because it's been nearly 4 weeks but i've been traveling so much that i'm either gone or out and about with friends at dinner time. the best part of my dinner adventure was googling the instructions of how to make my soup, which i'm going to guess was of the potato slash onion variety, and then improvising because i only bought a sauce pan, not a pot. oh, and i had no way to measure 3/4 liters of water, so i just kind of eye balled it. honestly, the experience could have gone a lot worse. also, it was tasty. dinner= success.

alright, on to the depressing part: a big part of traveling so much and being cheap is you end up walking. everywhere. we've been traveling so much by foot these past few weeks that i literally walked holes into my pants. "but why is this so depressing, maria?" thank you for asking, inquisitive reader, as a reward for being such an active reader i shall answer your question. those were/are my favorite pair of pants. and they don't make them anymore. also, raise your hand if you agree with me that buying pants is THE WORST. so when i find a pair i like i will basically wear them until they fall apart. because of my uncharacteristically high amount of walking oriented activities i participated in, my pants have reached the end of their life prematurely. i thought i'd have at least another year left in them, optimistically speaking. so to console/reward myself i purchased a slightly different pair from ebay, which should be arriving at my parent's house in a timely manner this week, conveniently 5,000 miles away from me. which is awesome.

as the red circle advertises, these jeans are clearly classy. 

in other news, the light in my bathroom is still broken. which makes showering fun. also, school starts in a week. i'm kind of nervous about that actually. it's been quite a few months since i've had to attempt to think critically or academically. i'll let you all know how that pans out.

courtesy of the many hours i've spent on trains these past few weeks i've finished three books. only one of which was i able to say "i'm glad i read that" after i finished it. i really need to stop reading young adult literature. i'm currently taking recommendations on what to read next, if you're passionate enough about a book you've recently read, let me know?

so let me sum up my past week: berlin was awesome. freezing and slightly depressing but awesome. dresden was smaller than expected but that didn't stop it from meeting my expectations for evidence of it's previous war-torn state. prague was... intimidating. the language was even worse than german, the money was insane (18 koruns to each dollar, so a meal at mcdonals was like 74 koruns. riddykong), and poor planning lead to a lot of aimless wandering. you'd think we would have learned better than that by now. apparently not. and the cherry on top of my travels: people continue to amaze me with their undeserved kindness towards me. the atm at dresden's train station glitched and refused to give me my money. i couldn't read the attention/warning/important note thing it was displaying in german, so i went to ask two train station employees who were standing not too far from me, and wouldn't you guess it, they don't speak any english. a random dude heard me so obviously struggling to communicate to them with my severely limited german and he attempted to help me. he failed, but at least he attempted. things like that keep happening to me. or i'll see random strangers come together to help a young mother maneuver her bulky stroller, or a weary luggage burdened traveler, onto or off various public transportation. i don't know why seeing goodness in people still surprises me. that can't be a good sign.

up coming travels: tomorrow night at 11 we're taking a night train to rome where we're planning on spending a few days before heading to florence for a few more days. no lies, i'm preeeetty excited.

closing thought: i've been ruminating over this for the past few weeks as i've been traveling places. i've slowly come to realize that places and things don't matter. it's people who make the difference. i feel like i could, or should, expound on that a little more but it's now 2 AM and i have a sinus headache that has nearly succeeded in making me cross eyed. safe to say it's time for bed.

Monday, February 20, 2012

the brother: reunited.

i kinda feel weird being this excited about seeing jesse again, like siblings aren't supposed to get along or want to hang out or miss each other. so let me explain. my brother is easily my best friend. for the two years i stayed at dixie college he was basically my only friend. we hung out daily, stayed up late watching youtube videos on my laptop, and had more inside jokes than even we could keep track of. once he went on his mission i decided i didn't need to live at home anymore. (no worries, i still love you very much mom. you too christee.)

not even kidding, within two minutes of talking to him again it felt like he hadn't been 5,500 miles away for the past 606 days. i asked the sister missionaries if they thought we looked like siblings, they kind of debated back and forth between each other, "eh, i don't know.." "yeah kinda. look at the eyes." while me and jesse started joking back and forth, as we do. after a few sarcastic comments were passed between us, marissa turned to me and said, "yeah, i definitely see the resemblance now" rest assured, our humor is still the same.

he managed to get the family hosting him for dinner to agree to feed me and marissa, which was awesome. not only did that mean we were going to get to try a "real" german meal, but we also got to spend a few more hours together. after dinner he gave the family a spiritual thought, as is customary for missionaries to do.. apparently. he said it in german so the people it was intended for could understand it and i'm pretty sure that was also so i couldn't understand him. occasionally he would motion to me and say something like "meine schwester", and then i caught something about lehi and then he asked how to say disneyland in german. from that point on i knew almost exactly what he story he was telling as he recounted the tale of how it took my family 1-3 years (we debated on exactly how long it took us... i think 1 1/2 years but he's been telling people 3) to go 30 days without contention to earn a trip to disneyland, courtesy of the bank of M.J.Wilson.  at the very end of the story i could tell he went into testimony mode as he started talking about my family. that's when he got a little teary-eyed, as he has a tendency to do. i didn't pick up on most of what he said, although i'm sure i can guess, but there is one part i have no question what he was talking about. i heard it almost as if he'd said it in english: "meine schwester ist meine beste freundin"

we were attempting to take a serious picture when he blurted out "BAND PIC!" aaand i started uncontrollably laughing, like usual. 

guys, i've really missed that kid.

we left shortly after that, me and marissa to wander around leipzig for a few hours before dark, and him and his companion to go to an appointment. we met up the next day at noon to eat lunch and visit and such.

our time together on monday was spent mostly laughing, talking, taking/sharing pictures (like the ones you see above) and generally acting like we'd only just seen each other yesterday. i can't imagine any of you really want to read a play-by-play of our interaction together (except you mom, no worries i'll message you on facebook... or something). as we were parting, me and marissa leaving to head towards the train station to leave for berlin and him and his companion (elder voran, who some of you might know if you went to snow canyon.) were heading to go play soccer with the other missionaries. jesse shook marissa's hand goodbye and then went to shake mine. as i confusedly put my hand out he pulled me into a hug just as i was about to start complaining. that kid... you just never know with him.

it's weird, as we walked away from each other i didn't feel the type of sadness that i thought i was going to. i mean, i'm sad because i miss him. but it's just like i miss any of you. and that's the thing, the next time i see him will be at the same time i see the rest of you. i miss everyone equally (except for you katrina, you know i miss you more. oh, and you too mom.). it was refreshing to get to spend some time with someone i love over here.

oh, and turns out one of the 6 other people we shared a room with in the hostel in Leipzig was a member. when we went to the front desk to ask them how to get to the street the lds church was on she said she'd just barely googled that same address. we thought it was a little weird but didn't think about it too much. after getting home from church the asian lady who sat in front of us at church walked into our hostel room. both me and marissa turned towards each other with the same "ahha!" face. turns out her name is lee and she's from hong kong and was in leipzig visiting a professor (that knowledge was brought to you by marissa, who is friendly and talks to random people... unlike me.). when i told jesse about all this he got super excited. apparently all the missionaries know lee because she's been investigating the church for like three years. they're teaching some pretty awesome/strange people over here.

totally unrelated note: in my first two and a half weeks here in europe i have heard three of my favorite songs being played out in the streets. songs that i'm sure the radio stations in the US haven't even heard of, let alone have on file. that's how cool europe is, it GETS me. (wow, how pretentious did i sound just barely? -10 points.)

want to hear a gem of a song? it's a cover of one of my favorite songs: young blood (which i've heard echoing through the beautiful streets of innsbruck during a snowboarding thing)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

valentine's day? wah wah wah...

so i barely missed being able to say i spent valentine's day in paris, which for some reason i thought would be cool. it being the city of romance... and valentine's day being... well.. you know... romantic. but then i realized i didn't even have a valentine so really being in paris on february 14th would be no different than being there the 5th-11th so i decided i didn't care anymore.

and after that little train of though, i managed to totally forget that today was valentines day, which is probably a good sign... considering a lot of other single girls my age can't seem to forget and are therefore posting thinly veiled attempts to appear content with their lack of a significant other, things like "single and loving it! i don't need no man to make me happy" or "having a love affair with chocolate and ryan gosling movies instead of a real man" or posting pictures of chocolates and flowers sent to them by their parents, who are undoubtedly aware of their daughter's fragile "single" state, and wording the description ambiguously enough that someone casually glancing through their facebook feed might accidentally assume that the flowers were given to them by a secret male admirer. yes. those postings.

i am happy to report that my valentines day was more of the productive variety. it included:
my first ever trip to ikea, and it was truly underwhelming. as we walked in i kept thinking about the newest episode of 30 rock where liz and her boyfriend criss end up fighting and the creepy ikea employee comes up behind them and screams "silence prisoners! i mean, how can i help you valued customers today?" unfortunately nothing like that happened for me. unless of course, you count everything being written in german, which i don't because i stopped counting that a few weeks ago.

watching pride and prejudice with rakel while eating these fantastic gummy fruit things. i have no idea what they were but i liked them. also, can someone explain to me the phenomenon that is girls who are obsessed with mr.darcy? as far as i can tell he's insufferable for most of the movie, until his very under-the-table redeeming acts, and even then elizabeth still dislikes him. i mean i could understand why girls would want the mr.darcy from the book but not from the movie. not that i didn't like the movie, i did. i found it perfectly fitting for valentine's day.

the bus on my way home was full of young couples holding dollar store chocolates and flowers. actually come to think of it, i saw a lot of couples today. especially young ones engaging in very public displays of affection. now those two kids sucking face on the bus this morning makes a lot more sense.

well it's officially 2:45 AM here, and i have officially managed to ruin whatever semblance of a normal sleep schedule i was attempting to maintain. so i think i'll head to bed.

oh! p.s. while in paris we went to a more modern art exhibit and i fell in love with one of the artist's work there. her name is corine perier and she specializes in mixing animals together, kinda. the colors she uses are all bold and very natural and smoothly beautiful. here are a few of her works that i absolutely love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

not so much of an update as an attempt to maintain composure.

the lady sitting at the front desk of the hostel that we're staying at looks an awful lot like an unkempt, dark haired version of the foreign writer on 30 rock, only with a bigger nose and an actual real accent.

may i present to you, sue galloway, the foreign writer from 30 rock. pretty sure her name is holga or helga or something else tragically Norweigian.

she's been playing whitney houston songs for the past hour and a half or so, in what i can only imagine is her attempt at a small scale homage to the recently deceased music artist. currently she's playing i want to dance with somebody and singing rather enthusiastically. and by "rather" i mean "very".

this really doesn't have much to do with anything, but i'm having a really hard time not laughing at her, so i'm choosing to focus all my energy on this instead. success.

another reason for this useless update is we have a train to catch in three hours and nothing to do. so we're currently killing time. i've complained about this enough that i'm sure you're all familiar with my lack of reliable internet here, therefore perusing entertainment via the web isn't a smart option. it produces slight anger storms and it's not a pretty sight.

i don't really have much else to write about today. we did spend an hour and a half traversing the creepiest/coolest cemetery ever though, and no worries, i took probably 150 pictures. i'm crossing my fingers that our train will have power outlets so i can work on those pictures tonight.

yep, i think that's about it.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

paris makes you fall in love with the food and their history. that's how they get you.

first things first: my skin hurts. i think it’s what they call wind burn, actually. it’s making my face and hands all fake-warm and burn-y and in need of some serious moisturizing, which i shall have to postpone until after i write my daily novel for you. so, shall we begin?

i started off today less than ideal with the weirdest dream i've had in a looong, long time. the kind that leaves the rest of your day all tainty and such. you know the type. no worries my weirdness surrounding my dream was immediately pushed to the back of my mind the second i saw myself in the mirror. last night i fell asleep with wet hair. this morning i woke up looking rather Medusa-esque. very chic, very Paris. and that is the hair that i chose to immortalize by being in a bunch of pictures today. i make the best decisions.

anyway, we started off our day on a business oriented foot. we headed to the train station and purchased our train ticket for tomorrow night. 8:20 PM- 7:30 AM. thrilled. we also met a nice lady from minnesota who was staying with her cousin in Frankfurt and was here in Paris by herself for the day. we seem to have a knack for finding the lonely, women travelers from the states over here. i guess our knack could be worse, such as attracting those people who hand out fliers on the street or people who have recently eaten a bowl of onions. but i digress.

at noon we met up with marissa's friend and his two cousins in front of notre dame. we talked for a few minutes and then they took us to a fancy pants restaurant just across the street, called Cafe Panis. now, i remember telling someone once that i wasn't a huge foodie; that i didn't really care about food, and that i ate mostly to not die. i've since realized that’s because i really was just eating to not die by stuffing myself with the cheapest and most boring stuff i could find. paris has opened my eyes to real food and i have a feeling i'm going to pay for this realization once i go back to feeding myself on a college student's budget. in this restaurant i had the best Crème Brûlée anyone has ever had. ever. 

marissa's friends were so generous, they shared all their food with us so we would be able to experience as many authentic french foods as possible. (side note: my meal came with french fries which were probably the worst fries i'd ever had. jeez france, step up your fry game. honestly.) at the end of our meal they "insisted" me and marissa absolutely had to see the bathroom, because it was fancy or something. so we did, and it wasn't anything at all. in fact it was rather cramped and it smelled funny, as public restrooms do. but when we came back we found out they had insisted because they wanted to pay for the whole bill, and it was no small bill at that. i am constantly dumbfounded by generosity like that from practical strangers. 

us in front of the fancy restaurant: the guy on the left was marissa's friend. (the picture is slightly blurry because i have a camera that no one knows how to operate. apologies)

after that we walked across the stree to visit Notre Dame, which thankfully was free. and gorgeous to boot. worry-ith not, for i took loads of pictures inside and you shall all see them soon enough.

marissa's friend insisted they take a picture of us in front of notre dame. so we did. notice the awesome hair.

Notre Dame was only around the corner from Sainte Chappelle's cathedral so we headed in that direction. i'd learned about Sainte Chappelle's in my art history class last semester so i knew this was one of the major things i had to see. and it did not disappoint. the outside of the building just might be more impressive than the inside with spires so thin they remind me of fish bones; so delicate and spindly. the architecture is so precisely thin that the entire thing seems to be made of stained glass. speaking of stain-glass, the entire top layer of the cathedral is just stain glass and it's absolutely breathtaking. i actually took a video of the stain glass windows, which i just attempted to upload on here for you to all enjoy. but the internet would have not of that. so you're going to have to do without. apologies. 

right around the corner form Sainte Chappelle's we visited the Conciergerie, which started out as a palace for the city's royalty and was then turned into a prison, which housed marie antoinette in the last days before she was executed. the first floor of the building was being used for some super strange, modern art show- we were unaware of this and so we were both confused when unicorn skin, "bird houses" full of books made of legit bird feathers, and a bear rug made of wood greeted us, instead of the prison we were promised. however we were not entirely wrong, for it was the basement of the building that is full of historical information surrounding the prisoners it housed and their situations for being put there. 

i left the concierge with a sense of bittersweet awe. the way the stories of those executed during the french revolution were presented gave a sense of sadness and reverence for those who gave their lives. it left me actually wanting to search out about the revolution and it's history on my own, which is something i can say i've never felt before about any other country's revolutionary history. 

all in all, today was a really great day full of really great experiences. i think after being here for four days i've finally gotten past all the overwhelming fluff that paris tries to throw in your face and i'm starting to see and really value the rich history this place has to offer. not going to lie, i'm kinda sad to go. 

oh! funny-ish story time: so i've seen a lot of pigeons lately (especially today where this dude at Notre Dame was putting pieces of bread in his mouth and letting the birds come eat the bread from his mouth. it was as if he wanted every disease ever). i was actually almost ran into by two separate birds who decided to fly right where i was about to step, but anyway...  on the way home from the Conciergerie i actually saw a lady act like a pigeon. like legit the first thing i thought when i saw her running was, "wow, she looks exactly like a pigeon!" background story: our bus driver today was insane. like, i'm sure he is the man solely responsible for giving all of France a bad name. he's loud and scary and when people see him driving- they run. about 40 to 50 people were walking across the street at the crosswalk, where they're supposed to walk, when he suddenly felt entitled to honk his way right through it. so he did. this is when he almost hit the unsuspecting lady. she was about half way through the crosswalk when he started laying on his horn. it scared her so bad that her first step was more jump than step, but even that feels incorrect because it was really more flight than jump. she then ran away with her arms flailing behind her very pigeon-esque. not going to lie, i laughed. and how could i not? she looked like a pigeon! haha, i'm still laughing, not sorry. 

his insanity couldn't be all fun and games forever though, so he did almost hit a little five or six year old boy. and that had nobody laughing. when i saw the little boy run out into the street without knowledge of who was driving right for him, my heart lept. i legit thought we were going to hit him. luckily my bus driver did what he does best and he layed on the horn long and loud enough that the boy jumped/flew back onto the sidewalk, where his very caring and absolutely mortified mother was there waiting for him with words of love, fear, and threats and a lot of tight arm grabbing and shaking. can't say i blame her though, i thought he was a goner as well. 

so the tour bus that we've been riding around in plays music in between each fun fact about the city. want to hear the song that's was played ten times more than any other song? 
this is just one version of it, not the actual one that we've had the privilege of listening to for the past three days straight. i say that like i hate the song now, i actually don't. just to be clear. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paris day three: Panthéon, shakespeare and company, and cinnamon hot chocolate.

i swear the internet here is trying to kill me. after playing the game of "connecting to the login site/can't connect to the login site/connecting to the login site" for about 5 whole minutes (not the exaggerating type of minutes either. but like, legit i timed this five minutes. ridiculous.) i was about ready to force the other twelve people in the lobby off their laptops so i could get some uninterrupted bandwidth. no worries though, we're finally connected. for now.

today has been super low key, which seems a little ungrateful to say once i list off all the once-in-a-lifetime things we've done and seen in about 8 hours time. first thing we did was visit a chocolate museum, which i thought was going to be awesome considering european chocolate is supposed to be the best. yeeeeaah... that may be the case but i guess i forgot the best chocolate doesn't necessarily equal the most interesting museum. and it was cold, (i think that's the thing i'm struggling with most here. there is no warmth. the tour bus is cold. the bus stops are cold. the stores are cold. the sites are cold. while waiting for our bus today i found myself moving down the street in line with the small sliver of sunshine that had fought it's way in between the massive buildings. i ended up quite a ways from marissa, who was waiting in line where i was supposed to be. the only place that's warm is my bed and i would totally hate myself forever if i stayed in bed the whole time i was in paris.) long, and in french. we got to taste some really fancy hot chocolate after and i chose milk chocolate and cinnamon, which was easily the best cinnamon hot chocolate i've ever had in my life, albeit it was also the only cinnamon hot chocolate i've ever had, but i digress. i think they whipped warm milk and then put the flavor in that because it was so creamy and rich. i'm tempted to try making it on my own but i know it'll never live up to what i had today.
oh! also, at the end of the tour they had a room full of stupidly fancy cups that royalty used to drink their hot chocolate out from. one of the cups was designed in such a way that the gentlemen using it could enjoy their cup-o-cocoa without dirtying their mustache. hilarious. don't worry, i totally took a picture. (as seen to the right) i find the flowery design on the mustache cup to be awfully fitting. do you think those fancy pants dudes were also desperately afraid their lipstick would come off onto their precious floral-to-the-max cup? buh dun dun tch! (jk, to be fair all the french men i've seen this trip have been very, very ruggedly manly. rest assured. i'm only calling the old royal men, who wore powdered wigs and tights, girls. buuut moving on)

the highlight of my day was easily our trip to shakespeare and company, which enabled me to cross something off my bucket list that i completely forgot to even put on my bucket list. shakespeare and company is a world famous bookstore on paris's left bank most well known for being the gathering place for writers such as ernest hemingway and james joyce. it's been featured in a few films and is basically heaven for literature nerds everywhere. including me. i could have easily spent the entire day in that little store. unfortunately you're not allowed to take pictures, which nearly killed me. nearly. and so with my nikon in my backpack i figured i'd compromise with the store and only take pictures with my less than amazing phone. that way everyone wins... right? right. the walls were completely covered with gorgeous new, and gorgeous old books alike. there were a few books i wanted to buy so badly because they were old and full of character. but alas, books are heavy and money is for food at this point. so....

i decided that i was allowed to purchase only one book there. i wanted to make it a classic that i knew i already loved, so naturally i purchased the picture of dorian gray. <<<
this was my favorite book that i read last year and this specific version of the book is so absolutely gorgeous, i couldn't resist. swoooooon. one of my favorite things they do at the store is when you purchase a book they stamp it with the official "shakespeare and company stamp" and i totally got one >>>
this isn't my actual stamp, 
i'm too lazy to get it out and take a picture of it right now, 
but i'm sure you'll see mine soon enough.

our next stop was the pantheon, which i managed to only call the parthenon once, ten points! it was adequately freezing, enormous, and fancy inside. we went down to the basement to the crypt of all the famous french people who were buried there including mrs. marie curie and the author of my favorite movie, the count of monte cristo: alexander dumas. i took pictures of these things as well buuut you get to wait a few days for me to finally take them off my camera (i'm currently up to 430 photos. yay!), edit, and upload them. the pantheon is also house to foucault's pendulum, which claims to hold completely still even though it gently swings in the middle of the pantheon. the explanation? the pendulum isn't moving but rather it's the pantheon that's moving with the rotation of the earth and all that other trippy stuff. honestly it's hard for me to wrap my mind that. i took a video of the pendulum swinging buuut i shall save that for another day. or i'll put it up here later and just not tell you. who knows. 

on our way back to the hostel from the pantheon we stopped at a random place for linner/dunch. we both wanted to try authentic paninis and crepes while we were here so i ordered some random panini, a lemon crepe, and cherry coke (which tasted sugar free and a little weird). the lemon crepe alone was reason enough to stay here in paris for the rest of my life. they do lemon perfect here. mmmmm. the dude who ran the place was a little overbearing, but still charming.

alright, i can tell i'm getting tired because i just want to write about the rest of today's experiences in short three word sentences. crepes are good. he was nice. we walked far. it was freezing. i'm finally warm. i love chocolate. blah blah blah.

day three was easily a success.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

writing frozen is hard, but paris is so worth it.

today has been ultra surreal. although now that i'm thinking about it, it started off as anything but.
me and marissa woke up this morning in a room with a young korean couple, who had decided to shower sans curtain last night making it necessary to wear boots to wade through all the water. wet sock, to the extreme.

the day was all uphill from there though.

at about 10:30 we caught a bus to the Louvre Museum, (aaand we totally got in fo' free! thank you Innsbruck Student Pass) where we spent a good chunk of our day. turns out i have a huge affinity for greek statues, but we all kind of already knew that. i took a bunch of pictures that i'm not willing to sort through right now, but once i do i'm sure i'll let you all know.

at about 3 we decided to find our way over to the Eiffel Tower via tour bus, which we got at an inflated "discounted" price from our hostel. Marissa reminded me that i probably wasn't going to have a chance to sit on top of a tour bus while it traversed Paris ever again, so i braved the cold and we sat on top (a decision i am stiff suffering the consequences of as i sit here in the lobby in my scarf and coat, even after three hours of being indoors). all day i was on the hunt for an eiffel tower charm for my unfortunately bare charm bracelet, and i'm happy to report i found one in the gift shop at the base of the tower for only 12 euros.

i took this from the top of the tour bus. all of paris looks amazing like this. i wish i even knew what this was a picture of, but alas i do not. 

the view from on top of the tower was something i don't think i'll soon forget. we went at sundown, which is apparently the best time to go, and i swear the city seems to stretch on forever. it's gorgeous.

the view from the eiffel tower. uhmm amazing. 

me, frozen. i fully realize i'm going to look the EXACT same in every picture because it's freezing and i'm wearing as many layers as humanly possible. 

but since i was already so unfortunately frozen i couldn't stay up there for long and we ended up leaving after only five minutes. we made a mad dash for our bus in hopes that it would be there sooner than later to minimize our time outdoors and after a very heartfelt impromptu song i made up and preformed to entice the bus to hurry, it arrived, just in time for me to realize i had misplaced (or rather lost) my 32 euro, two day ticket. after waiting in the cold. with no other way to get home. i frantically searched all my pockets as the bus that was supposed to take me and marissa home left without us. for the first time in a few hours my thoughts weren't consumed with how frozen i was, but instead they were focused on just how retarded i was to lose that pass now that we were the farthest from our hostel that we planned on going.

so with no other way to get home we decided to take a taxi, which didn't end up costing as much as i thought it was going to, plus it was warm. oh! also i promise to never complain about St. George drivers again. oh. my. gosh. as far as i can tell there are no traffic rules here. or at least no rules that are followed. pedestrians walk when they want. drivers know no lanes. and car horns are apparently necessary... pure insanity.

we made it though. we purchased quite the inventive lunch/dinner of random items we found at the market a few buildings down (side note! they're playing "hey there delilah" here in the lobby. aw... american music) and sat down to eat it in the lobby here right next to steve, an older gentleman from southern california, who felt it was his duty and his right to inform us of... everything. we got a nice little lecture on how mass with in an ancient catholic church is living art, how republicans are doing their best to destroy america, and on the history of paris, van gough (and his film maker grand-nephew... who get a muslem murdered or something), the lucrative LA art movement in the 80's, and a bunch of other random bits about this dude's financial status, or lack thereof, how many mormon's he's ever met and his opinion of each and every one of them, and how many times he's been to whichever country. we seriously talked to him for an hour.

it's now almost 10 PM my toes are still frozen, i just finished my hot chocolate and one of my ribs is fighting to pop out of place so i'm going to call it a night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the traveler's journal: a semi pointless story about a train ride to paris and other paris related thangs.

so i'm currently sitting in the lobby of a hostel in paris, sucking up more than my fair share of free wifi, while a french version of "you'll be in my heart," by phil colins plays over the radio (those are definitely words i never thought i'd say). it's only 8:05 PM but i'm already to throw in the towel and call it a night. want to know why? ok:
so yesterday me and marissa caught an 8:30 PM train from innsbruck to munich. apparently our train was having difficulties though, because it was fifteen minutes late, giving us a slight heart attack and only twenty minutes to get to our connecting train in munich. that was the second most stressful train ride of my life (the first being the one from zurich to innsbruck, as a sleep deprived maria wasn't even sure she was on the right train, or that anyone would be there in the end to meet her because her train was an hour late, or that she'd even be awake to get off at her stop because she keep falling asleep every time she blinked. also, where did that third person talking come from? weird.) we pulled into the munich station with 2 minutes to spare before our next train was scheduled to take off, prompting the first step off the train to be the first step of a fun little run through the munich train station from platform 14 to 23.

we ended up making it though, miraculously enough, and then spent the next 13 hours sitting in a compartment with two other people as the temperature went from freezing to boiling multiple times as the train stopped every half an hour for the first two hours.

actual serious story time: so when i first told everyone that i was studying abroad multiple people felt the need to share scary travel stories that either they'd experienced, or that they'd seen on tv (yes people, i've seen taken, thank you for your concern). one such story was told to me by my mom, who had heard it from her friend who studied abroad 15 years ago in europe, and it goes a little something like this: 

so they were traveling via night rail to italy and the conductor of the train would go into each compartment after the people inside had fallen asleep, and he would spray "this stuff" to make everyone fall into a super deep sleep so he could later go through their stuff and take what he wanted without anyone knowing. no worries the story ends happily, as my mother's friend stayed up and watched over everyone's bags and when the conductor came into their cabin she yelled at him and scared him away. and everyone lived happily ever after.

now time for my story: at about 2:30 AM we were stopping for a while to cut the train in half or something because half of us were heading to paris and the other half of us were heading to amsterdam. everyone in my cabin was asleep, except for me because the room had gone from boiling lava hot to freezing again, when the cabin door opened and a dude in an official looking, maybe conductor?, train suit came in and started poking around near the lady who was sleeping across from us. i groggily looked over at him and he shortly left the room. i was then able to fall asleep for a little while longer until i heard the door open again. when i saw that it was the same conductor man i sat up this time and made sure he knew i was awake. he made eye contact with me and either kissed two of his fingers or put a finger to his lips in a "shhh" fashion, i didn't have my glasses on so i can't be sure, winked and then left. i wasn't inclined to believe my mom's horror conductor story before... but now... i dunno.

for most of the train ride, the song train song by feist and ben gibbard was stuck in my head. slightly annoying. also, i had a dream that the hostel we stayed at served us pickled and cooked bat for breakfast. woke up from that one with a bad taste in my mouth. ah bah dun dun tch!

wow, now that i've taken a million, long winded paragraphs to tell you about half of our journey i'll sum up the rest as quickly as possible.
we arrived in paris at about 10:30, as previously said, and immediately set out to find us a cheap hostel. after walking in the completely wrong direction for... a while, we arrived at the hostel "vintage" at 11:30. the nice man at the front desk took our bags and told us our room wouldn't be ready until 4. he didn't send us on our way before taking our payment, a sweet 124 euros for 4 nights, and giving us a map with circled destinations on it. we set out to discover as much of paris as we could by foot, which turns out wasn't very much. guys, this place is huge. we saw a church that has had someone inside it constantly praying from the time it was built, 125 years ago. i could even point out and name some of the classicizing features of the church, take that last semester's art history class! i wanted so badly to take pictures of the inside of the church but it was strictly prohibited, and i didn't feel like getting kicked out of paris on my first day here, so i settled with pictures of the outside of the church instead. i don't really want to edit all the pictures i've taken today yet, which admittedly aren't all that much, but i'll give you at least one picture of the church. oh! i totally forgot to mention, we ran into a lady from dallas on our way to the church. she was in paris all by herself and she was rather chatty and slightly motherly, which was nice. anyway, that nice lady decided me and marissa really needed a picture in front of the fancy pants cathedral, so she attempted to use my camera to take one. and the picture on the left is the result (after a lot of editing to lighten it up) of that. ha.

after the church we went on a fun little walk to visit one of the mystery circles on our map. turns out our destination took us through the... adult part of town. that was an adventure, to say the least. 

we came back and checked into our rooms after that and then wandered around town some more, stopping for food a time or two. can i just say the food here is divine? i walk past bakeries and am immediately filled with the desire to eat everything my eyes see (ha, i say that like it's any different from the rest of my life, but you get the idea.)
so far i've had a quiche, the best lemon pie thing ever, and a variety of a nutella candy bar. it's a good thing that i'm spending half of my days walking or i'm pretty sure i'd end up coming home fat. 

well, it's now almost 10 PM. i think that's a long enough novel for you guys to read for tonight (although i'm pretty sure my mom is the only person who would have gotten this far. mom, you're a trooper). 
until tomorrow,  tschüss!

Monday, February 6, 2012

traveler's journal: a list of accomplishments.

so i figure, not only am i super tired and therefore not quite mentally capable of writing in depth about my adventures today, but i also figure you guys don't want to read a 1,500 word essay on what i ate and where i spent my hard earned money on this here 6th of february. therefore i shall make you a quick list, as i am prone to do. 

lets begin: i...
-woke up at 6:45 AM all by myself (yes, i feel the need to document this every time it happens.)
-met my english studies advisor
-registered at the university
-got a bank account/card
-sold a $2 for € 2,50 to the dude who works at the bank. take that crappy currency conversion rate!
-tried a krapfen, or doughnut, and it was divine.
-learned and then recognized a german word: bitte. 
-bought my first two bars of european chocolate. mm mm mmmm. 
-purchased 5 country train ticket pass
-planned a trip to paris... for tomorrow
-secured a new blow drier to replace the one i blew
-went to FHE/ got free dinner. 
-found out how to walk home if i ever stay out too late for my bus (which will never happen because i'm -really, really good at making it home by curfew)
-and finally set up my internet. 

also, quick story time: so i was trying to find a photo booth thing to get a passport-esque picture taken for my bank card in one of the many, many mall type shops here (fun fact: this building was not only a shop on the bottom floor, but it was also city hall on the top two floors. they are the weirdest.) but i was having troubles. so i did what i always do, and started asking people if they spoke english and if they knew where the photo booth was. one particular man actually approached me first, that's how lost i looked, so i asked him if he spoke english. he started laughing, almost like i'd just asked him if his mom loved him and if his nose were on the end of his face and he then proceeded to give me directions in english with a very austrialian (from austrialia... not austria) accent. turns out i was supposed to be able to tell by looking at him that he wasn't a native german speaker... i guess.
alright, now that i've written that i'm unsure why i felt it was so worthy to share. gonna blame this one on the jetlag... because that's completely relevant. 

well, i think it's bed time now. or at least time to wait another 15 minutes for a 3 minute youtube video to load completely. while i'm on the 12 hour train ride tomorrow i'll write more interesting/in depth blogs for you guys. but until then, tschüss!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

traveler's journal: entry two.

so, it's my second full day of being here and wouldn't you believe it, i already can't think of anything to write about.

oh! want to know something fun? ok. so not only do you need a power adapter for electronics but some also require a power converter thing. guess who didn't know that? yeah... guess who's bathroom light and bathroom plug no longer works... yeah... not my brightest moment. (brightest... get it! because the light is broken! ha, i'm so funny.)

so instead of stories i'll give you a list of things i've accomplished today:
*i purchased things so i can live like a normal human being, such as shampoo, body wash, and bread.
*i finally unpacked all my schtuff. it seems so unfair that i felt like i'd brought so much with me but once i'd unpacked it seems like there really wasn't all that much at all.
speaking of my stuff, wanna see my bedroom? ok
quaint isn't it? quite. i think so too.
in retrospect maybe i should have taken a picture of the other side of the room as well so you could see the entire area, but i didn't. maybe tomorrow? i share this room with another girl, who i actually haven't met yet. which i find kind of unnerving. hopefully she shows up before i take off on my travels. 

*i fell asleep at 10:30 last night and i woke up at 8:15 all by myself! i didn't even set an alarm or anything. high fiving a million angels!
*i actually recognized where i was today. i can't even tell you how happy that makes me. i'm slowly becoming more and more comfortable with the bus system here.

things that are different from home:
*instead of waiting to be seated at a restaurant you seat yourself. also, when it comes time to leave you just pay the waitress, and she gives you your change from the a little money pouch around her waist. you don't get a receipt and for all i know it's not documented in any way either.
*they play good music here. i've heard my favorite song "somebody i used to know" playing at least 3 times all ready, and "young blood" by the naked and famous, which is yet another one of my absolute favorite songs, was playing in the street today.
*either american's drink faster than europeans or i'm just an incredibly fast drinker. by the time i was half way done with my meal i was already out of my soda and the people i was with had hardly even made a dent in theirs.
*also people here walk a lot faster than americans, which is awesome. because now my stride finally fits in.
*people walk everywhere but they also smoke. i don't understand how people who seem to be so environment friendly and health conscious can condone smoking. makes no sense.
*this is going to make me sound really girly, but everyone seems so fashion forward here. normally i don't get too terribly excited over fashion nonsense but the shoes here are freaking awesome. it's a good thing that i'm determined to limit my paying customer interactions otherwise i'm pretty sure i'd spend all my food money on unnecessary clothing items.
*speaking of shopping: the oh so popular store forever21 is called forever18 over here. who in the world would want to be 18 forever!? gah, that would be awful.

today while shopping for some necessities a young boy skipped past me and marissa counting the check out lines in english. both me and marissa turned to each other and got way excited. turns out his mother was in line behind us and they were from new jersey. days where i've met someone from the USA: 2/2. i wouldn't mind if this trend continues.

wow, for not having much to say this sure is long. apologies?

Friday, February 3, 2012

traveler's journal: entry one.

oh so you want an update? actually, you probably don't want one as much as i am willing to give one, but since this is my blog i'm pretty sure it's my desires that get written about. so, that's what we'll do.
wow, that got slightly aggressive there for a second, lets blame it on the jetlag (even though i'm weirdly showing like zero signs of. but i guess that kind of makes sense, since i wasn't even sleeping in our time zone to begin with). apologies. anyway, lets get on with it.

first: i started off this international journey, as any world traveler should, on 30 minutes of sleep. smart as always.  i caught the plane from and rode for a gripping 40 minutes to salt lake. from there i sat in the airport for longer than the flight itself was, about an hour, and caught a plane to atlanta, georgia. on that flight i sat next to a rather pleasant, 60 something year old woman with a nose ring, a bag of organic fruit, which she freely shared, and an affinity for curse words, which she also shared with me and the rest of the plane. because of my previous decisions not to sleep like a normal person, my sickness, which i was almost free of, decided to come back with a vengence, leaving me a sniffling mess on the plane. after ten minutes of me and my faucet for a nose she asked me if i was ok; apparently the cold sniffles sound exactly like the i-am-terrified-of-flying-and-emotionally-unstable sniffles. after seeing that i was actually ok, or just really good at faking, she shared half her clemintine with me just for good measure.

my trip has been full of really great strangers like that. while i was attempting to get from the zurich airport to the main train station i was clearly struggling trying to cart around my luggage which weighed just as much as me. (wanna know how i knew i was clearly struggling? i had multiple people stare and laugh at me. not even kidding. at one point the carry-on suitcase i had balanced upon the larger of my bags slipped and fell to the side. so in my ever present grace, i stopped and attempted to pick the suitcase up, all without letting go of my second bag, which was unbelievably front heavy and would tip over if i dared leave it unattended. this happened to me quite a few times actually, and consequently i've become really good at handling public ridicule, but moving on.) so, i was trying to get my two 50 lb suitcases and my two carry-on's up the four steps and onto the train with a line of rather impatient people behind me, a random older gentleman came and saved me. that happened another two times while trying to navigate the train station with all my luggage. (btdubs, i've completely learned my lesson and will NEVER take the 50 lb weight limit as a challenge to make my suitcases as close to fifty as possible. never again.)
one of the most notable saviors is marissa. she's the other USU student here in innsbruck and i swear without her i would be hopelessly and overwhelmingly lost, which is absolutely terrifying to think about because i'm pretty overwhelmed as it is. not only did she save me from the train station but she's taught me how to use the bus system, she's introduced me to many awesome people, and she even helped  me get a cell phone.

one of my favorite things so far is the little difference between here and home. and so i made a list of a few of those things,

fun things i've noticed:
  • there are dogs everywhere. and it's awesome. the people over here are really big dog lovers and so, as i write this in a colder-than-i'm-comfortable-with coffee shop there is a dog wandering around, free of his leash, as his owner eats her lunch. (let me clarify, there are very well groomed, well behaved, pet dogs everywhere. i've yet to see any strays.)
  • kids speaking german. i have no idea why but this makes me smile. and in that same vane another thing that makes me laugh at inappropriate times in public is...
  • they put their kids in snow suits often, which i guess isn't too weird considering it's only 14 degrees outside! (holy crap is it cold here. i remember complaining heavily last year during christmas break because it got down to 6 degrees at night and i was basically frozen. this place is like that at noon. it's a good think i lived in logan for a year and a half before moving here, because i'm not even prepared for it now. i can't imagine how i would have been going straight from 50 degree days to 10 degree days. yeah. no.)
not so fun things:
  • everything is gibberish to me. i was sitting in the city office today and i realized that not a single word written in any of the papers so delicately tossed on the lady's desk meant anything to me. it was kind of unreal because the whole motivation behind writing things down is to convey meaning and nothing about those words meant anything to me. it's the same with talking. the noise of the general public now sounds like everyone tape recorded their voices and are playing it backwards and i'm supposed to understand. so whenever i hear someone speaking english it's almost like they're a lighthouse and i can't help but stare at them in an attempt to soak in as much english as possible. (in related news: i now completely sympathize with the solely spanish speakers in southern utah, and i would like to publicly apologize for thinking you were weird for pausing before responding to my questions whenever you visited my place of work. because i now do that too. and it's makes me feel retarded)
  • you're all sleeping while i'm awake. which, lets be honest, really isn't that much different from how it used to be, but still... it's kind of a bummer. but i guess it doesn't really matter because...
  • i now have a very expensive calendar, calculator, and watch instead of a "smart" phone. so even if i tried to contact one of you, you'd probably be sleeping. i hate that i can't take pictures of the peculiar things i'm experiencing and then upload it to facebook. or that i can't text you guys back home things i see here that remind me of you. but i guess that's what facebook is for, right? speaking of facebook....
  • the internet at my apartment isn't set up and can't be set up until i get registered at the university, which i can't do until monday. ooh dear internet, how do i miss thee, let me count the ways. 
  • speaking of things my apartment doesn't have: a kitchen. so i don't have a fridge to keep my beloved milk in. turns out i'm going to be eating out a looot this semester, add that to the list of new things i'm going to experience. 
well i think that's a long enough post for now. i wish i had pictures to accompany it but alas, i'm still too chicken to boldly use my camera in public. however, i promise that is going on top of my list of things to do.