Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Family Time.

So I realise how slack I have already become with this blog! BUT I have an excuse... kinda... After I left Nancy I came to my sisters place in Lörrach, a small town in the south western corner of Germany, on the boarder of Switzerland and France. And together with my sister and her fiancé Dave, Dave's parents, my parents and my brother and his girlfriend we have been doing lots of eating, site seeing, wreath making, Christmas baking, eating, snow man making, Christmas hat making, cooking and more eating! It's been great spending time with the whole family for this very special WHITE Christmas!
Our usual tradition of Secret Santa dress ups (when you have to find an outfit- generally from op shops- for the person you draw out of the hat) was going to be a bit too hard this year, but we managed to fulfil our crazy tradition in the form of Secret Santa Christmas Hats. So we all drew a name from the hat and had to make a Christmas hat for that person from the random craft items in my sisters house on Christmas morning yay!. It was great fun, and really made it feel like it was Christmas (along with our childhood Santa stockings we found hanging in the tree after our snowball fight!).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nancy Pantsy

The most common question I was asked whilst in Nancy: Why did you come here?
I honestly hadn't heard of Nancy before I went and had no idea what was there or anything about it's history. All I knew was that it is around half way between Paris and Basel, it has a train station and had couches available for surfing!
In fact Nancy turned out to be quite a pretty little snow covered town and I ended up staying for three nights with a 22 year old couch surfing veteran named Mélanie and her techno musician housemate Carl. They have a very central and surprisingly large apartment in the main street of Nancy which is within easy walking distance to everything.
After having done my initial walk around the town, looked at all the old buildings and wandered the produce and Christmas markets, I can’t say that I really did very much while I was there! Most of my time was spent by the window with a cup of tea, watching the snow fall, reading a book. It’s a hard life I tell you.
I did venture out to see the city’s Aquarium, as one does when they need to forget about the cold weather for an hour or two, and even braved the cool night air to have a drink with Mélanie and her boyfriend. Which is when I learned about French men and their sleazy ways!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Paris, Je t'aime

As I sit here writing this post, I’m watching the pristine white countryside fly by my train. I’m on my way to Nancy after spending around 6 days in Paris… Bitter, cold Paris. And I regret to say the Parisians weren’t much better! Ok that’s a bit harsh. I did meet a few nice Parisians, but most of them weren’t raised in Paris ;)

In Paris I had my fist experience with Couch Surfing. I stayed with a lovely young French couple in the office of their cute, creaky little 3 story town house in the town next to Paris called Malakoff. I spent my days navigating the Metro system and meandering through Paris seeing some of her many sites (aka: making my way from one café to the next- past the Eiffel Tower). I also spent a fair chunk of a day wandering through the Christmas markets on the Champs-Elysees (aka: making my way from one vin chaud stall to the next whilst looking at L'Arc de Triomphe).

While I was there I received an email from my future employers in Switzerland- (Patisserie Christian Bolliat) who informed me that due to unforseen circumstances, they were cancelling my trainee work contract. Which came after they received an email from the Office of Federal Migration in Switzerland stating, among a few other things, that my salary would need to be increased… by 4 times. So I can understand why they have cancelled our contract, though it doesn’t make it any less annoying considering I now do not have a job, and consequently, no visa… Dang.

But hey, I'm in Europe... It could be worse!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And it begins...

Room packed up and goodbyes said, the trip has finally begun. Although 44 hours in transit isn't my ideal way to start a holiday, it had to start somewhere, and after getting to know Gold Coast, Kuala Lumpur and London's Luton airports a lot better, that somewhere was Marrakech.
Although I've been there before, my perception of Marrakech was quite different this time. Maybe it was the group I was with... or maybe it was that I didn't eat the sausages from Plaza Jamar el Fna which had me bed ridden for a day of my last visit.
Either way, my parents, sister, her fiancé and I spent a week in Marrakech with day trips to Essaouirra and The Atlas Mountains.

Most of our time in Marrakech itself was spent wandering around the Medina (the old city) and the Souks (the marketplace), and after 5 days of that I’m amazed to say we were still coming across shops and alleyways that we hadn’t seen before. It’s such an amazing and interesting place, and so very easy to get lost in!
We ate ourselves stupid on olives, tagines and couscous (and ice cream) and drank an abundance of Berber whisky (sweet mint tea) and fresh orange juice. It was amazing! Morocco is highly recommended, just make sure you put on your bargaining pants if you want to buy something and be ready to barter hard! Oh and don’t follow the lovely gentlemen who want to show you the tannery, or the mosque, the way to the square or where they make the fabric…
IT’S A TRAP I TELL YOU. They are all in cahoots and want you to spend your money on overpriced goods. Be aware!