October 19, 2011

Zombies in Paris

I had a dream last night that involved a zombie outbreak and Paris. It was terrifying because I wasn't prepared and could not barricade myself well enough to survive it. I woke up a little afraid on the hard matress in the hostel. Then realized it wasn't real and I was still in Paris, my favorite city.

I first visited Paris when I was 16, fell in love and the feeling is still the same. There is something about this city, the people, the sounds, the buildings, the energy that makes me feel like I am home. That is the best way to describe it. It feels like home to me and within the next 10 years, I hope to make it just that, home.

First day here we went for a wander and a picnic, including cheap but tasty wine, cheeses, freshly baked baguette and chocolates for dessert and a view of the Seine from Pont Neuf. We accidently happened apon an amazing little street packed full of people and vendors selling everything from wine, baguettes and cheese, to clothes and scarves. We walked from out hostel, which was in Montmartre, at the base of Sacre Coer, to Pont Neuf, in the middle of the Seine and the begiing of the large island in the river. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect strolling weather. Ben had done this walk before, six years ago, only he was drunk at the time, so we took the round about way but made it none the less. Oh, and it also included so he put a ring on it. It came as a surprise to me. I did not expect it ever, let a lone of our trip and in Paris, but there is no better place or time he could have done it. It took a few moments for me to realize that he wasn't just bugging me, as this is Ben and he does have a habit of sounding serious when he is not. Once I figured out that he was not kidding, it again took me a few moments to realize exactly what was happening and I even forgot to say yes as I started to cry and hugged him. It was a very simple and yet absolutely perfect moment.

We did the touristy things, stood under the Eiffel Tower at night, saw Notre Dame, Hotel d'Invalides, Napoleon's Tomb. But my favorite things were simple. Picking up fresh backed goods and eating them in the park while feeding the pidgeons, randomly wandering the cobblestone streets and finding cute little vintage shops, one in which I found my engagement right; a vintage 1970's ring from Paris. That is my engagement ring and I couldn't ask for any thing better. I have no idea how much it cost and I don't care to know. It doesn't matter. I enjoy riding the Parisian subway, I love jay walking across the streets like a local and I love trying to speak french and the strange, sometimes confused looks I get when I can't quite say things correctly.

Yesterday, our last day in Paris, it rained. It poured rain for a good portion of the day. We walked down the Champ Elysees in the rain, with umbrellas we had just bought after eating fairly crappy pasta at a restaurant with terrible service, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Ben insisted that we visit a Fodue restaurant that he had been to six years ago when he was here last time. After a little wandering, we found it. Just a tiny, unassuming shop on a small, unassuming road. If you didn't know it was there, it could be easily missed, aside from the usual line up outside to get in. The resaurant is tiny; seats about thirty at the max. along the walls are benches, with tables in front of them and chairs on the other side. People have to either walk over the table or climb under it to get to the benches on the other side. It is chaotic, loud, and absolutely wonderful. You are forced to talk to the people next to you and the menu is so simple; cheese or meat fodue and white or red wine, from a baby bottle no less. Yup, that's where we had our 'engagement' dinner. The fondue was great, the best I have ever had and will not be easily matched.

I am currently sitting at ORLY airport waiting for my flight to Berlin. Ben is getting impatient because he is bored and it is almost time to start boarding, so I will let this long post end with a few pictures of fun in Paris.

October 14, 2011

Greeky and the food

I have been remiss in my writtings. The internet in Greece was dodgy so I didn't get much of a chance to post anything. But, here I am now for a short update.

We spent three nights in Greece, just outside of Athens by a town called Glynfada. What can I say about Greece? The history and the age of things such as the Parthenon, Temple of Zeus and Poseidon's Temple is beyond me. Just looking and touching things this old and knowing that 1000 years ago, or longer, someone else walked exactly where I was. Its a pretty crazy thing to think about. I am a history geek, so this is the best kind of thing for me.

However, it was not a place I would hurry to go back to. And I mean this with no disrepect to anyone and maybe it was the timing that was the problem with all the debt crisis and protests going on. Everyone seemed angry, Which was in stark contrast to Turkiye where most people seemed happy to see you. No one was outright rude and maybe this is just how the Greeks are, I have no reference point to go from. Athens, even with the awesome ruins, is not a pretty city. For the most part, the buildings are under 100 years old and very boring to look at. Learning some of the history though, there is a good reason most buildings are square and  built with no esthetic value at all. They were built to house an influx of people in the 20's and had to be built quickly and able to withstand earthquakes. They are not completely without their charm as I tend to like lots of people crammed into one place. It also rained very heavily one day, the day the transit workers were on strike, so that probably did not help the situation.  I guess I had been spoiled with going to Turkiye first. There were some great, helpful people though and the food!! MY GOD THE FOOD!!! My life will never be the same now that I have tasted true greek salad. I don't know how I can go back to the feta and vegetables in Canada. Even the onions is greece are sweet! I just cannot get over the food. I would go back to Greece again, just to eat Greek Salad. I kid you not!!!

I am currently in a hotel room in Venizia ( Venice ) but leave quite early tomorrow. Paris here I come!! I will leave you with a photo (  which does not even begin to describe the amazingness ) of greek salad and a little thing called The Temple of Zeus. I think you can tell which one is which. Sleep well.

October 5, 2011

American until proven innocent.

No one here has yet to guess my nationality correctly. Generally, a lot of the vendors will try to guess which country you are from in the attempt to engage you in conversation and get you to go into their shop with them so they can sell you stuff. Although Ben is quite good at getting the good price, it is really hard to extradite yourself from the situation once you are in it. So, I have been assumed to be American until proven innocent more time then I can count. I have also been called English, Australian, and Norwegian ( which was an odd one ) Not one person has guessed correctly yet. This is why most Canadians plaster their backpacks and clothes in Canadian flags. We get mistaken as American's a majority of the time, although not a terrible thing, gets a little annoying after a while.

Two carpets and a pair of shoes. That is what we bought within 2 hours of the first day of stay here in Istanbul. Which puts us way above our daily "budget" but, the shoes are hand stiched and the carpets are of the famed Persian variety. Wonderful stuff.

We visited the outside of " The Blue Mosque " yesterday. We could not go in as we were not dressed appropriatly to visit a mosque. Besides me wearing shorts which is a no no, I also need a head covering, so the plan is to get one of those and head there tomorrow morning.

We did however get to visit Hagia Sophia, built in about 400 AD, is was originally a Christian church that was converted to a Muslim mosque about 900 years ago ( I think ). The Blue Mosque was actually built very close to Hagia Sophia to show how much more impressive Islam is then Christianity. Up until 1911, Hagia Sophia was a functioning mosque, but was secularized by president Ataturk then. Secularization meaning that it is now open to every one and any one and has been made into a museum. When the muslims took over the church, they plastered over much of the original mosaic work that covered the walls and ceilings. An intesive restoration has taken place and they have peeled back some of the plaster so we can see parts of the original mosaic work. It's really quite the history lesson and incredibly neat to see. The next stop, after lunch in a cute little cafe was The Cistern, built to hold water for the palace. It is quite the experience being under ground. I can't remember the ago of it or who built it at this time, but one can just see it and imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago.

Amazing little thing. A women who was neither Turkish nor muslim ( I suspect German ) approached me while I was in Hagia Sophia. She asked me if I knew I was in a muslim city, in which I replied that I did. She then began to inform me that my clothes were offensive because I was wearing shorts. My shorts were not that short and there were many, many people wearing dresses, skirts and shorts shorter then mine. She informed me that Hagia Sophia  was a muslim mosque. We pointed out that it was now a museum and secularized, meaning it is no longer considered a house of worship and I think she was a little taken aback by the fact that I argued the point. It was kind of funny and strange. If it had been a devoute muslim or even a Turkish person who had approached me, I would have apologized, but the guards and people at the entrance seemed to have no problem with my clothes. Also, we saw what we think were dolphin police, but we're not quite sure.

The amount of history in Istanbul is amazing. Byzantine, Ottoman, Romans, and then some all have laid claim to this place and Istanbul is actually Constantinople, the famed ancient city. Looking at some of the buildings and surrounds, one can't help but imagine life here as it was 1000 years ago. The sheer scope of time and age of things here is unbelievable and being from North America, there is nothing that even comes close. Just touching a stone that has been standing there for 1000 years is mind blowing.

Today is The Grand Bazaar and The Spice Bazaar. We'll see how much more money I can spend Golden Horn which empties into the Agean Sea and the Black Sea the other direction. I guess I was a little mistaken when I called it the Medditeranean.

Hagia Sophia 

 Also, Ben saw a scoripion in the bathroom today. : S

October 4, 2011

Here I am.

The sun is shining, I am over looking the Medditeranean Sea while eating the freshest Feta and Tomatoes I have ever had. After 31 hours of no sleep ( I may have got a 40 minute nap in there somewhere ) we finally arrived at the Agora Hostel in Istanbul. We took the metro from the air port to the hostel, which was cheaper and probably took less time then a cab would have, judging by the traffice we saw. When I arrived at about 4:00pm local time ( 1 am at home ) all I wanted was to put my head on a pillow and go to sleep, however, to try to adjust to the time zone, we stayed up for another 5 hours. We strolled some of the near by streets and had a wonderful dinner at one of the restaurants. People stand outside the shops/restaurants and try to entice you in. They are not rude nor really pushy, but they are sales men trying to sell you on the idea of their shop or restaurant and what they have to offer you. It's really kind of neat.

I have decided I love this city of 50 million. Yes, 50 million. There are more people living in Turkey then there is in all of Canada. Kind of mind boggling. 50 million people in one place is uncomprehensible to me. The majority of what I have seen looks a lot like picture I have seen of places in China and Japan: small streets, tall buildings all residential and people just everywhere. I LOVE IT! It was love immediatly! The people are not rude but a little pushy and not overly polite, if that makes sense. All in all though, it has been great so far and am looking forward to seeing the rest of what this city has to offer. We will be making a trip to the Asia side of the city in the next couple days as well as heading off to the grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar ( my favorite ) tomorrow I believe. But, today, we will be seeing the sights in the area, including the Blue Mosque.

Time to get dressed and explore this place, although I am perfectly content to sit of this patio and watch the barges come in and out of the port all day.

October 2, 2011

Time to Kill

I am currently sitting in Pearson Internation Airport awaiting my next flight. This is the long one; just over 8 hours in the air from here to Munich, Germany. I can see my plane out the window. It has been there for a while now as they unload the previous load/people and get it ready for us. I am hoping to pop a gravol and pass out for the majority of the flight.

Ben has gone to get me Starbucks.: D

That's our plane out the window.

Wish me sweet dreams.

Awaiting the Beginning.

It starts, or at least it will in about 40 minutes. In that time, I will be hopping on a flight to Toronto, then after four hours, I will be  hopping on another flight to Munich and then from there, yet another flight to our final destination ( at least for the moment ) Istanbul, ( or as my baggage tage says, IstaMbul ), Turkey! Yes, someone made a typo at some point along the way. Picture to come because my bag is currently being tossed onto a cart somewhere to eventually be loaded onto the plane.

Packing was the hardest part so far. I;ve never realized how much room jeans take up until this morning as I was trying to put the final touches on the wardrobe for the trip. I had to leave some things behind, so here's to hoping I find some exotic and stylish Eruopean styles while I am there. A great pair of shoes and a new purse would aslo be ideal.

As a hairstylist and someone in the fashion/beauty industry, I did some serious thinking about what to bring with me. Besides from the basic backpacking clothes, I also need to have clothes that will work for my Vidal Sassoon, whicm means, clothes that I would wear to work. Needless to say, it was a challenge and I am still no convinced I packed the right stuff.

I brought Bioderma H2O as my make-up remover, cleanser and toner. This was recommended by the amazing Ashly McKessok who I have mentioned in my previous blogs before. It's pretty amazing stuff. I brought some Bumble and Bumble Sumo Wax for my hair, as it holds well and looks great. Also from the Bumble and Bumble line, Mending Shampoo and the Mending Complex, because I can see my hair getting quite dry and damanged from the sun in my tropical destinations. I brought K-pak conditioner as a basic conditioner. MAC Studio FX powder and liquid foundation, Buxom Mascara as well as Falsies Mascara, again highly loved by Ashly, Kat Von-D Pink lipstick, Buxom lip gloss and make-up forever black liner. A little blush as well thrown in for good measure. I will probably only use a small portion of this stuff, but if I didn't have it, I would feel naked.

My call to board just came over the sound system. Off I go. See you in Turkey.