Monday, March 31, 2014

Fall 2013: Saturday at a french open air market

The best part about living in Aix-en-Provence was definitely the open air markets that popped up 3 times a week, but Saturday was the busiest day. This market was a mere 20 feet from my doorstep, so essentially the greatest thing ever! I spent so much time there soaking up the smells and sounds of the south of France. There were so many incredible (and local!) vendors. One section was dominated by fruits and vegetables. 


Then there were the French equivalent of food trucks that sold tons of different things. There were also bakers. A couple sold bread and rolls, then there was the greatest cookie man ever who sold delicious biscotti and all other types of cookies. We were good friends and always chatted when I stopped by to pick up some good stuff! Next to him was a man who sold amazing madalenes, which are delicious French cookies. There was also a woman who made fresh crepes. 

In addition to these vendors you had olive vendors, and olive oil and tapenade vendors.  The aisles are filled with free samples to try and if you ask the vendors will let you try just about anything.

There is fresh chevre goat cheese a different vendors, a few who sell honey, specifically the coveted lavender honey, and meat vendors. Every day that the market was open, on the way to class I would stop at the apple vendor for my daily apple which was absolutely delicious. The apple vendor was so strange, singing “pomme pomme pomme” as he sat at the apple stand unloading his stuff.

There was even a separate section with pottery, ceramics, clothes, textiles, and tons of other goodies for around the house. 

The market was so characteristic of southern France and something I miss more than anything. Fresh delicious local food with a story. And you never have to set foot in a super market- just the way I like it.

SUMMER RECAP 2013: Making the crossing Croatia to Italy

After visiting Hvar I was ready to move on to Italy because I needed to make my way to Switzerland. I wasn't sure when I was going to leave until I heard that two of my guy friends were headed over the next night. I asked if I could join them and they said of course. They were headed for Rimini because they had both been there before, and I was more than happy to see and hang out with them there!

We took the ferry over from Hvar on a Sunday night. It was headed to Ancona. The ride cost about 44 euros and took 12 hours. It didn't leave until about 11PM so we had a whole day to kill. I hit up the beach one more time, and then sat around drinking beers and watching the sunset with all the Hvar gang. The boys had been on the island for 8 weeks so they were getting pretty sentimental. Needless to say, they got quite a few beers deep. It was hilarious. Then, we went to the ferry. Once we got there we realized we had no food or anything to get us through the night. So we went to the nearest store, got pringles and more beer to help us survive the passage.

We loaded on and set up our own little corner of the floor to sleep on inside. I thought originally we would be sleeping outside so I was actually pretty happy about being indoors. We ate pringles, drank beer, and curled on up the floor to freeze the night away. We used empty beer cans as pillows and took turns cuddling in rig's sleeping bag for warmth. It was a VERY long night but we woke up in a fit of laughs, and starving. Thank GOD we still had half a can of pringles. It was quite the night. Curly and Rig are sure great company!

PRINGLES are perfection

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fall 2013: "Family" dinners south of France

The group of students I lived with in the south of France loved to make “family” potluck style dinners on Sunday nights. We would all bring a different dish that was assigned based on the theme, hang out, and enjoy each others company.

We did Greek night, breakfast for dinner, pasta night, Mexican night, and more. We celebrated birthdays, made delicious apple pies for a taste of home, and drank wine until way to late for having class the next day.

But we were a family and we savored out time together. Eating, drinking, laughing, talking. We even had our French friends join us. Conservation oscillated between French and English as we caught up on our weekends apart.

The only downside was when you hosted family dinner and had to do dishes once everyone went home… yikes

SUMMER RECAP 2013: Rimini, Italy

I didn’t really did plan on stopping in Italy, specifically Rimini. However, I met my two travel buddies in Croatia and that was where they were headed.  One of them had worked there at a hostel, and the other one had been a visitor to the hostel which is where they met in the first place. So we took a train up after getting over there from Croatia. The train did not take very long, and then once we had gone on the train, we took a bus out of town to the beach where the hostel was.

They had AMAZING pub crawls at Sunflower that led to some of the great clubs in the area, and they also had more laid back nights.  Since I knew all of the staff we went to the staff BBQs and just hung out as a group. It was fun and relaxing to spend time with my boys curly and Rig! I really miss them- they fabulous!!

We stayed at Sunflower beach hostel which the main reason people come to Rimini. I really did not leave the vicinity of Sunflower, and mostly went there, to the beach and back.
They had a big kitchen, and awesome common room with a bar and outdoor seating. I passed the days drinking beer, playing beer pong, and flip cup.

They had AMAZING pub crawls at Sunflower that led to some of the great clubs in the area, and they also had more laid back nights.  Since I knew all of the staff we went to the staff BBQs and just hung out as a group. It was fun and relaxing to spend time with my boys curly and Rig!

I really miss them- they fabulous!!

Fall 2013: Visiting a vineyard Southern France

One day all of the other students and I took the day off and visited a vineyard in southern France. It was about 40 minutes from where we were staying. While we were there, they taught us about wine making, showed us where they made and stored the wine, let us walk through the vineyards, and finished up with a delicious tasting!

They even served yummy foods of Tapenade and bread and olives. Very typical for the south of France and just what I needed to go with the wine. The views of the Provence fields and valleys were completely worth it, and we loved every moment we spent enjoying the sun setting over the countryside.

SUMMER RECAP 2013: Climbing the same mountain 3 times, Switzerland


I had a whole saturday to "kill" alone in interlaken. My friends did not get in until Sunday. So what did I decide to do? Well I wanted to do something active and close by and accessible. So I decided to climb hyder klum which is a mountain right above interlaken. You don't have to take a lift or anything you just get right on at the far side of town. So I wandered around and then climbed up.

But this was funny because this is the exact same climb I did the year before with my friend lucy. So I was climbing the same mountain twice.

 Oh well can't hurt right? Let's do this!

It took me about 3.5 hours round trip and was a very nice hike!

So then it gets better. The next day my friends were getting in around 12:00. And it was then that I realized they would count on me to show them around and with only a half day our only viable option would have to be, again, harder klum.

So that, is how I ended up climbing the same mountain 3 times.

At least the view is worth it right?

Boat cruise, south side Jamaica

On our last day in Jamaica we went out Captain Denis’ Boat cruise. It was superb. Actually I am not sure I have ever had such a great boat tour! The captain was so much fun, had interesting things to say, and loved to joke with us.

We started out by following all along the south side of the island towards black river. It was about 12 miles of just pristine and beautiful coast line. We stopped at the sandbars where the dolphins usually are and waiting. Within seconds there were dolphins swimming everywhere and Captain Denis drove us around following and chasing dolphins for at least 30 minutes, giving all of us a chance to lay in the front and watch the dolphins cross our bow. They were beautiful in the crystal clear water.

After the dolphins we moved up to go down the black river. This was like moving into the swamp land. And this is where we ran into alligators. I mean BIG gators. They were just laying out in the sun ALL over the area. Even close to people. Needless to say we did not get very close.

We stopped at a bar down the river that has an awesome rope swing. At first we were hesitant because, well , we had just seen alligators, but our guide promised us they were much farther up the river. Plus there were so many local swimming. So we sucked it up and jumped enthusiastically into the water from the swing. It was a blast.

After that we turned around a headed back up the river.

Our last stop was at a bar out in the open ocean. The pelican bar was incredible! It is placed on a sand bar and we could wade in the water all around the bar, take your drinks out, and explore. Or you could sit on the docks and just enjoy the sun and nothing but clear blue water all around in every direction.

We cruised the boat back to the beach concluding our 6 hour tour. We chilled out before going to Captain denis’ beautiful house for dinner. They cooked an amazing spread of BBQ for all of us, and treated us so well. It was easily the best meal of the trip.